In 2006 I went to an awesome fitness seminar that was put on by Ryan Lee. I learned so much that it completely and radically changed the way I trained clients and myself with much better results. The techniques that were taught, I still use today. I pride myself on staying up on the latest scientific studies as they relate to health, fitness, and athletic performance.
Two recent studies have come out that prove these techniques are still not only applicable today, but the science validates these to be the best bang for your buck pre-workout routines. The two techniques are self-myofascial release (think self-massage), and the other is dynamic stretching.
Self-myofascial release using the foam roll uses gentle pressure to work out knots in the muscle, help to relieve tight muscles, and help to restore the length/tension relationship(the length at which a muscle can produce the largest force) between muscles.
The foam roll study took forty healthy men between the ages of 17- 47 years of age. They were put into random groups. One group used the foam roller, while the other group used a different type of stretching. The study lasted four weeks and tracked measurements and improvements in the stand and reach exercise to see which group made more improvements in hamstring flexibility. At the end of the four week period the foam roll group showed improvement in hamstring flexibility.
Using the foam roll is something simple you can do for yourself that is an easy and cost effective way to manage your soft tissue. This will help keep you running and exercising with a reduced incidence of injury, and without a sacrifice in performance that can come with other types of stretching pre-workout. See here
Another recent study looked at dynamic stretching (Dynamic Stretching uses force production and momentum to move the joint through the full available range of motion) like hip swings, bodyweight squats, lunges, etc, rather than using static stretching. Static Stretching is a process of passively taking a muscle to the point of tension and holding the stretch for a minimum of 30 seconds.
The dynamic warmup study aimed to determine in highly trained male runners, whether they would benefit more from non-stretching or dynamic stretching.
“The results demonstrated that the DS treatment improved the endurance performance of running at a velocity equivalent to 90% VO2max in well-trained male runners, although it did not change the RE. This running velocity is equivalent to that for a 3,000- or 5,000-m race. Our finding suggests that performing DS during warm-up before a race is effective for improving performance.”
In short terms, the dynamic warmup actually served to improve endurance!
As you can see, your pre-warmup routine is important to your performance during both the training and racing phase. In addition this warmup protocol of using both foam roll and dynamic stretching would also be important for those who are looking for peak performance. This is also makes sense from a general health stand point to make sure that your muscles are working together in the most efficient way possible.