Best 5-Minute Warm-Up to Do Before a Run

It’s easy to forget about warming up before a run—as a runner myself, I’m guilty of just lacing up my sneakers and jetting off, without giving any sort of thought to whether or not my body is prepared. As with every other workout, though, warming up before a run is a good habit to develop if you want to stay injury-free.

“To support injury prevention and overall longevity in running, runners should warm up every time they lace up,” Robbie Ann Darby, an ACE-certified personal trainer in New York City, tells SELF. Warming up properly will help “increase range of motion, make the body more flexible, and allow for better movement,” Aubrey Watts, C.S.C.S., performance center coordinator and assistant strength coach at the National Strength and Conditioning Association, tells SELF.

“Without a proper warm-up, you are increasing your potential risk of injury while also missing out on the benefits of increasing your mobility.” So even if you don’t end up with some new aches and pains, chances are, you’re not running as efficiently as you could if you took 5 minutes to properly prep your body.

Watts adds that your warm-up should be specific to the range of motion you are going to need for that particular workout. “If you are about to go for a run or do some sprinting intervals, you may want to prime your hips and ankles, and activate the glutes as well,” she says.

To help make warming up more seamless, Darby put together (and demoed) the 5-minute warm-up below that you can do before runs, based on which muscles and movement patterns we use during this type of exercise. “Running is a repetitive movement that requires a combination of strength, stability and flexibility for optimal performance,” she explains. “Therefore, each exercise address these three components in order to prep the major muscles in the body specifically for this forward accelerated movement.”

Here’s what the warm-up includes:

  • High Knees to Heel Kicks
  • Squats With Hip Rotation
  • Pendulum Lunges With Balance and Side Bends
  • Planks Variations With Knee Drives
  • Glute Bridges With Knee Drives

Darby suggests doing each exercise for 45 to 60 seconds. Spend more time on whichever exercises your body tells you it needs.

Here’s how to do the moves:

1 High Knees to Heel Kicks

“This cardio warm-up helps activate the muscles in the quads, glutes, and hamstrings,” Darby says.

  • Alternate between high knees and heel kicks. You can do this either in place or moving.
  • Make sure to hold your chest high, back straight, and keep your core engaged.
  • Continue alternating sides for 45 to 60 seconds.

2 Squats With Hip Rotation

“This mobility exercise is great for firing up the glutes and opening up the hips,” Darby says.

  • Start standing with legs shoulder-width apart.
  • Do a squat.
  • As you stand back up, lift one knee toward your chest and circle it outward to open the hips.
  • Place your foot back down and lower into another squat.
  • Continue alternating sides for 45 to 60 seconds.
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