Complete a round of these dynamic stretches before you hit the road.
It’s no secret that consistent running puts some serious stress on the body, so before you step into the high-impact activity, it’s best to prime your muscles and joints for movement with a quick pre-run stretch routine.
“Running places a huge demand on the body-up to eight times your bodyweight-depending on pace,” says Blake Dircksen, DPT, CSCS, a physical therapist at Bespoke Treatments Physical Therapy in New York City. “You need to prepare your body to handle that load to reduce risk of injury. And a proper warm-up preps the body by increasing blood flow to the working tissues,” he says. “It also increases the core body temperature and gets the muscles and tendons ready for rapid force development.”
How to stretch before running
You don’t need a ton of time to put these pay-offs in motion. A max of 10 minutes will do-about five if you’re on a tight schedule. If you have a few extra minutes, start with foam rolling the major muscle groups, including your glutes, quads, hamstrings and calves, Dircksen suggests. Then, work on muscle activation with band work or dynamic bodyweight movements. “Reviews show that holding a static stretch for longer than 45 seconds either negatively influences maximal strength and power or has no effect on performance,” Dircksen explains. Translation: Save long stretches for a post-sweat cool-down and power up on dynamic stretches pre-run.
To start your run the right way, do these six dynamic stretches, curated by Elizabeth Corkum, aka Coach Corky, a New York City-based certified run coach and instructor at Mile High Run Club. She recommends doing each move for 30 to 45 seconds to wake up your entire body before you hit the road.
1) Bodyweight squats
Targets: Your glutes, which are crucial for an efficient run, says Corkum.
How to: Stand with your with just outside hip-width apart. Send hips down and back, keeping your weight in your heels. Aim to get low enough that your hips are below knees. Push off heels to stand back up and repeat.
2) Butt kicks
Targets: The hamstrings and quads. It also helps you get your heel up behind you as you run forward, and lengthens your quads.
How to: Stand with your feet hip-distance apart. Kick one heel up toward your butt, with your foot flexed and knee bent. Quickly switch your feet so the other heel comes up toward your butt. Alternate sides.