Five Pre-Run Stretches

Before you hit the pavement running, take the time to warm up with these five dynamic stretching exercises.

Whether it’s race day or a quick jog around the block, stretching before running is a must.  A dynamic warmup for running is a great way to help your muscles prepare for a run. These five stretches are a great start to a well-rounded stretching routine.

WHAT IS DYNAMIC STRETCHING?

Dynamic stretching can also be referred to as active stretching. When performing these warmup stretches before a run, you’ll be doing continuous movements. This can help stimulate and activate your muscles. That’s why dynamic stretching before running is a great way to prepare for your run.

“Dynamic stretches help increase your range of motion before an exercise or routine,” Health Fitness Specialist of Corporate Fitness Works and Certified Strength and Condition Specialist John Herman says. “These stretches also mimic the movements you’ll be doing.”

To help you start your own dynamic stretching routine, here’s a list of five stretches that cover key muscles used in running.

LEG SWINGS

The purpose of leg swings is to warm up the hip muscles and hip joint. To do this dynamic stretch:

  • Lift your right leg in front of you, keeping it straight.
  • Swing that leg behind you like a pendulum.
  • Swing that leg back in front of you.
  • Make sure to use control when swinging the leg and make it a continuous movement. Be careful not to lift your leg too high, as that will put too much strain on your hip flexors.
  • To help with balance, hold onto a wall or a sturdy object.

JUMPING JACKS

Jumping jacks are a quick way to get warmed up and prepared for a race. This simple exercise is used across many workout warmups and routines. The dynamic stretch is performed when you:

  • Start with your arms straight by your sides and your legs straight.
  • Jump your feet apart while raising your arms up from your sides.
  • You should make an X with your body.
  • Bring your arms down and feet back together.
  • Repeat this process continuously for about 30 seconds.

ANKLE CIRCLES

Work on your mobility with this ankle stretch. To begin this quick stretch before running:

  • Stand on your left foot while lifting your right foot slightly off the ground. Use a wall to help keep balanced, if necessary.
  • Rotate your right foot at the ankle in a clockwise circle for 30 seconds.
  • Rotate your right foot at the ankle in a counterclockwise circle for 30 seconds.
  • Switch legs and repeat with your left ankle.

CALF RAISES

Prepare your calves for your next run with this pre-run stretch. To execute this dynamic stretch, you’ll:

  • Raise up to your tiptoes with your feet together to warm up your calves.
  • Then lower your heels back down to the ground.
  • Repeat this motion about 10 times, only holding each position for a second or two.
  • To get a deeper stretch, stand on a slightly elevated surface, like a step, so that your heel extends further down.
  • Keep your balance by standing close to a wall or sturdy object.

HEEL-TO-BUTT STRETCHES

This exercise strengthens the hamstrings while stretching your quads. Here’s how to do it:

  • Start with your legs shoulder-width apart.
  • With your left leg on the floor, bend your right knee and bring your ankle to your butt.
  • As your right knee straightens back down to the ground, bend your left knee and bring your ankle to your butt.
  • Continue to do this alternating motion with your legs for about 30 seconds.
  • This stretch can be done either standing still or in a forward-moving motion.

“After fixed positions for long periods of time, such as sitting at a desk or in a car, dynamic stretching before a race increases range of motion in the joints and prepares it for activity, such as running or lifting weights,” Herman says.

Don’t forget to stretch after your next race or practice, too. Discover other stretches for runners with these five post-run static stretches.