Louisville NE 68037 & Plattsmouth NE 68048

A Guide to Warm-Ups: Preventing Soft Tissue Injuries in Track Season

April 9, 2024

As track athletes, we push our bodies to the limit, striving for that extra fraction of a second or that additional inch in our performance. However, with the intensity of training and competition comes the risk of soft tissue injuries. From strained muscles to tendonitis, these injuries can sideline us and hinder our progress. But fear not! The key to staying injury-free lies in one of the most overlooked aspects of training – the warm-up.

A proper warm-up is not just a formality; it’s a crucial component of injury prevention and performance enhancement. By gradually increasing blood flow to the muscles, raising body temperature, and improving joint mobility, a well-designed warm-up primes your body for the demands of track workouts and competitions.

Dynamic Stretching

Static stretching, where you hold a stretch for an extended period, has its place in flexibility training, but it’s not ideal as the sole method for warming up. Instead, opt for more dynamic stretching than static stretching, which involves controlled movements that mimic the actions you’ll perform during your workout or event. Dynamic stretches help improve range of motion, enhance blood flow, and activate the muscles you’ll be using.

Some effective dynamic stretches for track athletes include leg swings (forward and sideways), arm circles, walking lunges with a twist, and high knees. Perform each stretch for 10-15 repetitions or for about 30 seconds per side.

Foam Rolling

Foam rolling, also known as self-myofascial release, is an excellent way to release tension in tight muscles and improve tissue quality. Target areas prone to tightness or previous injuries, such as the calves, hamstrings, quadriceps, and IT bands. Spend 1-2 minutes rolling each area, focusing on any tender spots or knots.

Activation Exercises

Activation exercises are designed to wake up dormant muscles and prepare them for action. These exercises are particularly beneficial for addressing muscle imbalances and ensuring proper muscle recruitment during workouts and races. Include exercises like glute bridges, clamshells, bird dogs, and resistance band walks to activate key muscles like the glutes, hips, and core.

Sport-Specific Drills

Depending on your event, incorporate sport-specific drills into your warm-up routine to reinforce proper technique and movement patterns. Sprinters might include A-skips, B-skips, and butt kicks, while distance runners could focus on high knees, strides, and form drills. Jumpers and throwers can integrate bounding, plyometric drills, and technique-focused exercises into their warm-up.

Gradual Intensity Build-Up

Progressively increase the intensity of your warm-up to mimic the demands of your workout or event. Start with low-intensity movements to raise your heart rate and gradually ramp up the intensity as you move through your warm-up routine. By the end of your warm-up, you should be sweating slightly and feeling ready to tackle your training session or competition.

Mental Preparation

In addition to physical preparation, use your warm-up as an opportunity to mentally focus and visualize success. Clear your mind of distractions, visualize yourself executing perfect technique, and mentally rehearse your race strategy or event performance. By combining physical readiness with mental preparedness, you’ll be in the optimal state to perform at your best.


Remember, consistency is key when it comes to injury prevention. Make warm-ups an integral part of your training routine, regardless of whether it’s a light recovery day or a high-intensity workout. By taking the time to properly warm up before every session, you’ll not only reduce your risk of soft tissue injuries but also maximize your performance potential on the track.