When runners are short on time, the first thing they tend to drop is a pre-workout warmup. After all, they think, what’s the harm? Well here’s the deal: when you don’t warm up before a run, you are putting your form and muscle health at risk. You’re also increasing the likelihood of getting a serious running injury.
On the flip side, just five minutes of pre-run warmups could help you get in the proper running mind-frame, so you can focus on form; it will also loosen up tight muscles and decrease your risk of injury. Sounds like something that’s worth an extra five minutes, right? We certainly think so, which is why we’re sharing this pre-run warmup routine from running coach Corinne Fitzgerald, modified from Mind Body Green.
Dynamic Warmups Mean Safer Runs
Fitzgerald’s routine consists of dynamic stretches (ones that involve movement, as opposed to static stretches, that can be done standing in one spot.) Dynamic stretches make for great warmups because they improve blood flow and flexibility, two key ingredients to preventing running injuries. If you have the time, aim for including each of the following stretches in your pre-run routine, but even just doing one or two of these moves can help stave off running injuries.
How to: Start by standing with your feet, shoulder-width apart. Lift your right knee up and pull it toward your chest, giving it a hug. Release your right knee, and do the same thing with the left leg. Do this movement, alternating legs, for 30 seconds.
How to: Similar to a typical hamstring stretch, step your right foot forward and flex your foot. While sending your hips back, sweep your arms toward your feet, as if you were scooping something off the ground. Sweep your arms up over your head, and return them to your side, while stepping your right foot back to meet your left. Repeat with your left foot. Continue to alternate for 30 to 60 seconds, until hamstrings feel warmed up and stretched.
Calf raises and ankle circles
If you’re running early in the morning, and only have time for one or two stretches, Coach Fitzgerald advocates for making this stretch a top priority.
How to: Stand with feet hip-width apart, and press up on your toes or the balls of your feet, reaching as high as you can without losing your balance. Lower yourself back down, and repeat for 30 seconds, taking your time.
To do ankle circles: Lift your right leg about 2 inches and draw a circle in the air with your big toe. Do 10 to 15 clockwise circles, and then several counterclockwise. Repeat on the left side, 10 to 15 circles each direction.
Lunges with rotation
How to: Stand with your feet together, hands on your hips. Step forward with your right leg into a basic lunge, bending your front knee to a 90-degree angle and dropping your back knee. Once in your lunge, twist your upper body to the right. Return to center and step your right foot back to your left. Repeat on the left side, twisting left this time. Do this movement for 30 to 60 seconds, slow and controlled.
How to: Start with feet shoulder-width apart, or a little wider if that's more comfortable. Slowly send your butt back, like you're sitting in a chair, making sure your knees do not go past your toes (you want them to be stacked on top of each other). Focus on shifting your weight to your heels. Rise back up, squeezing your glutes at the top. Repeat slowly for 30 seconds.
Butt kicks and high knees
How to: Stand up straight, feet hip-width apart, and bring one heel up to your butt (like you're literally kicking it). Bring it back to the ground. Then do the same with your other heel. Start to get faster, alternating heels and finding a bounce in your step. Repeat for 10 to 15 seconds.
To do high knees: Stand straight up, with feet hip-width apart. Pin your elbows to your sides, and stick your hands out in front of you, palms facing down. Drive your right knee up to meet your hand, bring it down, and do the same to the left. Repeat these movements, alternating knees. You want to switch between knees quickly, almost like a hop, and stay on the balls of your feet the whole time. Repeat for 10 to 15 seconds.
A pre-run stretching ritual will go a long way towards preventing running injuries, but there are no guarantees against getting hurt when you train hard. If running injuries are keeping you from clocking your desired mileage, stop in to our Elmhurst podiatry office for help getting you back on track.