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Trainers Say ‘3D Stretches’ Are the Best Cardio Warm Up

When you’ve carved out the time to go for a run, it can be tempting to just get up and go. But skipping out on a stretch before your first mile not only has the potential to keep you from hitting a personal record, it also comes with the risk of injury (and plenty of second-day soreness). A study from April 2021 found that almost half of all runners—regardless of their age and experience level—injure themselves at least once in their running career, particularly in the knees, calves, and Achilles tendons. No thanks. The best way to combat this, according to trainer Ash Wilking, is to work a “3D Warmup” into your routine.

Here’s the deal: All of your body’s movements happen on three different planes of motion—sagittal, frontal, and transverse—and you’ll want to get all three of these planes nice and warm before you set out to log some miles (or do any other form of cardio for that matter). While it may seem like a run is all about putting one foot in front of the other, according to John Henwood, Olympian and Boostcamp running coach, the motion of jogging actually works your body on all three of these ever-important planes.

First up is the sagittal plane, which is responsible for all of your forward-and-back motions—aka propelling you forward as you put one foot in front of the other. Next comes the frontal plane, which splits your body in half and carries you through your side-to-side movements. During your runs, this plane helps with the movements around your joints—including your hips, elbows, and feet—every time your foot makes contact with the pavement. Finally, there’s the transverse plane, which is all about the rotation of your trunk. When you pump your arms as you run (which, as you may know, requires a whole lot of stabilization of your core), this plane comes in handy.

By working these three planes with a 3D warmup before every run, you’ll reap the benefits of “better flexibility, a lower risk of injury, better range of motion, and increased stability,” says Henwood. This, he adds, will increase your running efficiency overall. By integrating these types of tri-planar movements into any type of workout—running or otherwise—will help to reinforce the movement patterns you do throughout the day, which comes with the added bonus of boosting longevity and allowing you to move comfortably as you age.

Ready to try a 3D warmup out for yourself? Lace up those sneakers and follow along with the video below.

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This Longevity-Boosting ‘3D Warmup’ Gets Your Body Ready for Cardio