Warming Up for a Run

I want to warm up before I run. Should I do stretches, such as sitting and touching my toes?

Your Wellness

Q:

I want to warm up before I run. Should I do stretches, such as sitting and touching my toes?


A:

Not all types of stretching are considered beneficial warm-up exercises. The type you described can place too much stress on your muscles and joints before your main activity begins.

You need a more gradual and movement-oriented warm-up, such as this:

  • Begin with a short walk.
  • Then do dynamic flexibility exercises, which slowly warm up the muscles. These exercises move your body similarly to running, but with a greater range of motion.
    • Heel/Toe Rocks
      • Keep your body upright.
      • Lift your heels and balance on the balls of your feet.
      • Lower heels to the ground and lift the front portion of your foot off the ground.
      • Repeat, rocking back and forth 10 to 20 times.



    • Bent Leg Lifts with Arm Swings
      • Keep your abdominal muscles tight and back straight.
      • Lift one leg, knee bent, as high as you can toward your chest.
      • At the same time, lift the opposite arm high above your head as the other arm stays low and presses behind you. Keep your arms bent at 90-degree angles.
      • Alternate with the other leg and arm, like an exaggerated march.


    • Straight Leg Lifts
      • Same as above, keeping legs and arms straight.
      • Lift leg as high as you can while keeping your back straight, as you would when running.


  • Walking Lunges
    • Step forward about 2 feet in front of you.
    • Shift weight forward until you have weight on both feet.
    • Keep back heel lifted off the ground; bend both knees.
    • Then shift weight to your front foot as you push off from your back leg and step forward 2 feet.
    • Repeat 10 to 20 times while keeping your abdominal and gluteal muscles tight.


  • Follow with an easy jog prior to your run.
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