Look, we’re all guilty of doing a few toe touches or a quick quad stretch before a run and counting that as the warmup. And while that might work for most people most of the time, it’s not the best way to get your body prepped to run your best for the miles ahead. In fact, research shows that doing dynamic stretches before running can help you perform better.
In a 2017 study, researchers compared how well study participants ran after moving versus sitting. When runners did a dynamic warmup, they were able to go almost two and a half minutes longer before they tired out compared to when they sat. The following five dynamic warmup exercises, demonstrated by Roman Siromakha, a certified trainer based in New York City, are the exact same ones used in the study.
How to use this list: Perform each move below 10 times, moving through each rep quickly, before your run. The entire routine should take less than five minutes to complete.
1. Hip Flexor Warmup
Start standing tall. Flex your hip by drawing left knee up toward chest as you swing your right arm forward (as if you are running). Return to starting position and repeat with right knee and left arm. That’s 1 rep.
2. Leg Flexor Stretch
Stand tall. Draw left knee toward chest until thigh is parallel to the ground, as you simultaneously swing your right arm forward and left arm back (as if you are running). Engage your quad to extend left leg straight out. Return to standing, then repeat with the other leg. That’s 1 rep.
3. Leg Extensor Stretch
Start standing. Slowly bend left knee to bring left heel behind you to glute as you swing your right arm forward and left arm back (as if you are running). You should feel your left hamstring engage. Return to starting position, then repeat on the other leg. That’s 1 rep.
Plantar Flexor Stretch
Stand with your hands on your hips. Lift your left foot a few inches, keeping your knee straight. Quickly flex your foot, pulling toes upward to shin and pointing them down. Return to standing, then repeat with the other foot. That’s 1 rep.
Hip Extensor Stretch
From standing, hinge forward at your hips. Draw left knee up toward chest while bringing right arm forward. From there, maintain the same lean as you quickly kick left leg back behind you while you simultaneously swing left arm forward and right arm back (as if you are running). Return right knee in front of you and repeat for 10 reps. Then repeat with other leg.
Images: Julia Hembree Smith