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Your Pre-Run Routine

Do you do a dynamic warm up, stretch or exercise prior to your run?

I recently read that 55 percent of runners do a warmup routine prior to running, and nine percent of runners perform form drills regularly [1]. When I read this I was excited to hear that people have started to do more than just throw their shoes on and run out of the door. Yay! This is a good start. But we have a long way to go.  

First, let's make sure your pre-run routine is actually helping you and not hurting you. Did you know that static stretching prior to running can actually impede you performance and hinder your running? If you are the runner standing by the side of the road hanging off the curb to stretch your calves or crossing one leg in front of the other and stretching your hip at the starting line, that's not helping you. Now don't get me wrong: I like stretching, as clinically and in research we have seen benefits. However, static stretching should be reserved for after your run or on off days. 

Although many websites and articles claim to have the "Five Best Warmup Routines for Runners," no one really knows what the "best routine" is. What we do know is the following:

Dynamic stretching increases caloric expenditure, decreases the incidence of lower extremity injury, improves blood flow, improves range of motion and lubricates your joints [2]. Dynamic stretching doesn't have to take a long time or even look completely ridiculous (only a little). All you need is five to 10 extra minutes prior to your run to gain all of these benefits!

Here are a few of my favorite pre-run exercises:

1.Walking forward lunges: Great to activate foot/ankle and hip stabilizers, core strength, balance and glute activation

2.Lateral lunges: Perfect to stretch out and activate your adductors and hip stabilizers

3. Hamstring kicks: Good for working on balance and opening up the hamstrings/posterior chain before a run

4. Leg swings with knee flexion/hip extension:Great for single leg balance, hip flexion and extension; actively stretches hip flexors and glutes

5. Bounding(A-skips and B-skips are also great, but not shown here): Good to improve push off, elastic recoil, work on forward lean progression and hip flexion/extension

Have a great run, and don't forget to take a few extra minutes to warm up!


1. 2017 Running USA National Runner Survey

2. —Herman K, Barton C, Malliaras, Morrissey D. The effectiveness of neuromuscular warm-up strategies, that require no additional equipment, for preventing lower limb injuries during sports participation: a systematic review. BMC Medicine. 2012,10:75.


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