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