Most people share a common running experience. You start off feeling slow and sluggish – wondering how long you’ve been running for and when it will be over – then something shifts. The body goes from heavy and stiff to warm and ready to run for miles.
This applies to all runners. Even the most experienced long-distance lovers have days when they’re just not feeling it or when their body needs a little more to warm up. It’s normal; however, there are certain things you can do to speed up the process.
A perfect running warm-up begins by doing the proper pre-run stretches. These simple movements have a profound effect on the whole run. From the first strides you take until you reach the finish line, a little bit of stretching goes a long way.
Here are 8 stretches you need to start doing before every run.
1. Walking Lunge
Not only do walking lunges loosen up the major muscles used while running — specifically, the quads and hip flexors — but they also simulate the forward motion of running, which makes them particularly useful as a pre-run stretch, says Seamster.
- Stand with your feet together, and then take a long step forward with your right foot.
- Bend the front knee to 90 degrees and the back knee until it almost touches the ground.
- Stay here for a few seconds before rising up and take another big step forward on your left leg to get the stretch on your left side.
- Continue this way for about 10 lunges (five on each side).
2. Hip Flex or Stretch
If you sit at a desk all day, you probably have tight hip flexors, since they’re constantly in a state of flexion. This makes this pre-run stretch extra important before you work out, says Schultz.
- Start in a lunge with your front knee at 90 degrees.
- Begin to straighten your back leg, so you feel a stretch along the front of your back thigh. Keep your front knee aligned over your toes.
- Raise your arms over your head and hold for a few seconds, and then release.
- Continue in a dynamic motion, shifting forward as you raise your arms up, and then lowering your arms as you come back to the starting position.
- Repeat five times on each side.