woman running outside after warming up

Warming up before a run: 3 dynamic exercises to prepare your body for running

Posted by for Strength

Not sure how to warm up before a run? Try these dynamic exercises to prevent injury and boost performance.

Just as it’s important to cool down after a run, it’s crucial that you warm up beforehand, too. 

An effective warm-up can expand your blood vessels, meaning there is a greater oxygen supply to muscles, which makes for a great workout. Your muscle temperature is raised for optimal efficiency, meaning that your joints can move through their full range. 

In simple terms, a warm up is prepping your body for the upcoming exercise routine or activity so you can move most effectively in that given routine. It can also be a nice transition mentally by clearing your mind and getting ready for the upcoming workout.

So, whether you’re a newly minted runner or you’ve been smashing out 10Ks for years, a warm up is necessary if you want to maximise your performance and reduce your risk of injury.

However, it’s particularly important if you’re not a regular runner, to help your body get used to the movement patterns of hitting the hard pavements. 

How to warm up before running

The main aim of warming up is to loosen up your muscles. A good warm-up should consist of up to 10 minutes of light aerobic exercise, such as a brisk walk or gentle jog. This will get your heart rate up and your body ready for your run. Once you’ve completed this part of the warm-up, you should move onto stretches that improve flexibility and your range of motion.

When it comes to stretching before a run, it’s important that you do the right sort. Simply leaning into a static stretch when your muscles aren’t ready will do more harm than good, so it’s important to do dynamic stretches. This is an active stretch that you move through, and is proven to prevent injury and improve performance. 

Lunges

Lunges allow you to stretch one leg at a time which can help with imbalances, strength, and stability.

1. Start by standing up straight with your hands on your hips. 

2. Step your right foot out in front of you, leaving your left leg stretched out behind. 

3. Bend your knees and lower your body down, until the right leg at the front creates a 90 degree angle. 

4. Push through your feet to push yourself back up to the starting position, and start again. 

Do this 10 times on each leg

Woman running in a park
Warming up before a run is just as important as cooling down afterwards.

Single-leg deadlift

These will stretch the hamstrings and activate the glutes before running. For a warm-up, do these with just bodyweight. 

1. Stand on your right foot and bend your knee slightly, with your left foot hovering just above the ground. 2. Then, hinge forwards at your hips while moving your left leg out behind you. 

3. You should end up with your left leg and torso parallel to the ground. 

4. Hold for a couple of seconds, then return to standing. 

Repeat 10 times, and do the same on the other leg

Clams

Activating the glutes before a run is essential to make sure that they take the weight as your foot strikes the floor. Lazy glutes mean that the quads will have to work overtime and can result in injury

1. Lying on one side, tuck the legs so that the knees come out and your feet are in line with your glutes. 

2. Stack the knees, then lift your top leg as high as it will go. 

3. Squeeze the glutes at the top of the move, then return back to the starting position. 

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Images: Getty

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