Jogging may be a simple way to get your recommended cardio, but hitting the road without a proper warm-up is a major no-no. Preparing your muscles is important to maintain full range of motion and the proper running gait. Get into a warm-up routine to adequately prepare your body for the challenges of jogging. This will include dynamic stretching exercises to get you up and moving.
Before you begin jogging, perform a routine that will warm up all of the body's muscles, not just those in the lower body. Do this by combining walking, which will gradually increase your heart rate, with a routine of dynamic stretches to ready your muscles for activity. Personal trainer John Fiore describes a proper dynamic warm-up routine as one that prepares the upper body, core, quads, hamstrings, glutes and foot musculature for running.
Dynamic stretches for the upper body should be simple movements that engage multiple muscle groups and get the body moving. Perform jumping jacks for 25 to 30 seconds, emphasizing the full range of motion of the arms and legs. Vary the movement by bringing your arms out to the sides and in, rather than up and down. To further target the muscles of the arms and shoulders, perform arm circles while walking either outside or on the treadmill. Adjust the angle, speed and direction of your arm circles to fully engage the muscles. Continue walking and move on to torso twists, which will engage your core muscles. Bring your arms to your sides and alternate twisting your upper body to the left, then the right. You should feel the stretch all through your core. Perform each movement for a set amount of time, ideally between 25 and 30 seconds.
You'll have to stop walking to warm up the lower body, which should start with leg swings for the hips. Stand with your hands resting against a wall and swing your right leg back and forth like a pendulum eight to 10 times. Switch legs and repeat. Against the same wall, you can also perform your calf stretches. Bring your feet out slightly behind your body, and alternate bringing each heel up toward the calf, and pushing it back down. Perform butt kicks for the quads. These can be done either for a set distance, or a set number of times. To warm up your hamstrings, hold your right hand out in front of you and kick your left foot up toward it, keeping your knee straight. Switch sides and repeat for the other leg. Each routine can either be done for a set amount of time, 25 to 30 seconds, or a number of reps, eight to 10.
The total warm-up should last between five and 10 minutes. Don't push yourself too hard and shorten the length of a stretch if it is causing pain. Make a mental note of your range of motion during each routine and make an effort to progressively increase that amount. If you find it difficult to perform a particular dynamic stretch, swap it out for one you prefer. Remember to address all of your muscles in some fashion.