Why are they swinging their legs?
Pass by your local high schooler running team as they prepare for their run and most likely you will see them swinging their legs forwards and backwards. It is a form of dynamic stretching, which gently lengthens the muscle and prepares the body for the running movement. You would be well advised to add this exercise to your pre-running routine.
It is simple. Find a post or wall to help maintain your balance while you swing one of your legs forwards and backwards. Put a slight pause at the top of each side of the swing, letting the body feel the stretch and release.
Besides the value of your muscles becoming aware of an upcoming activity, there is the add ability to move the limbs and torso in the manner they soon will be doing 180 times per minute.
For example, after the hours of sitting each day, your hip flexors are tight causing your hip to have reduced extension and flexion. Without a full extension, you revert to running from your knees instead of your hips. Resulting in using your hamstrings as your power in your running stride instead of your stronger and better-equipped glute muscles. If you take an extra minute to get your hips to open up and flex and extend you will be more likely to use the glute muscles while running
With the simple movements of dynamic stretching, you can improve the first 10 minutes of your run, making those first steps come easier.
Don't worry about looking silly. You won’t look silly doing the same exercises that competitive athletes perform, you will look all the more aware of the needs of your body.
Throw out the excuse that swinging the legs is for the young or fast runners. Your body is in just as much of need for proper warm up and training as those that were gifted with a bit more talent and years of practice. YOU ARE JUST AS VALUABLE.
So kick those legs up, twist your torso, and swing your arms with a smile, because you get to run today.
One minute of dynamic stretching before pushing the start button on your watch will get your run started on the right foot! Enjoy!