Bye-bye-bye static stretching, and hello dynamic stretching! If you’ve read a few of my posts then you probably know how I feel about static stretching. Considering it can reduce performance and increase injury risk while presenting few benefits to runners, I’m not a fan – I’ll cover this more in-depth in an injury prevention series coming soon!
So, if you’re not supposed to stretch before a run, then what do you do? Well… it’s simple: a series of dynamic warm-up exercises that prepares your body to run.
Which if you think about it, static stretching doesn’t even accomplish what a good series of warm-up exercises should, like:
- Increased heart rate and respiration (prepping your body for work)
- Improved range of motion and lubricates joints
- Increased capillary activation (fancy way of saying it’s delivering oxygen to your muscles)
- More elasticity in your tendons and ligaments (reducing chance of tears)
- Enhanced performance
That last point is what I really want to stress; I mean a simple series of warm-up exercises can help you run faster? Sign me up!
For some research behind this, in 2015 the Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research published a study showing that male runners who were well-trained, run faster after a dynamic warm-up
Maybe more importantly, after years of evidence from runners (myself included) who have simply felt better after a dynamic warm-up, I’m a big believer in these types of dynamic warm-up exercises
Which brings me to share my favorite dynamic warm-up with you:
The Dynamic Sole Warm-up
This routine requires no equipment and can be done almost anywhere.
Since the routines in the Easy Injury Prevention for Runners (Coming Soon!) are all plays on the blog name, so is this warm-up.
Most of these exercises are done standing, so if you’re running a muddy trail, or from your car in the rain, just skip the first couple of exercises (Also, Q&A below!)
Below are instructions on how to complete the warm-up exercises in the routine (PDF w/ photos and instructions coming soon!).
#1. Hurdle Mobility:
In a table position – hands under shoulder, knees under hips – lift your leg so that your thigh is parallel to the ground and shin is at a 90-degree angle from your thigh. Make a circular motion with your knee like you’re moving your thigh over a hurdle.
The next movement is exactly the same, except in the opposite direction.
#2. Cross Over:
Lie in a supine position (on your back) with your arms out to your sides and swing your right leg across your torso up to your left hand. The goal is to keep your shoulder and chest as flat against the ground as possible. There will be a good amount of rotation in your torso and hips as you swing your leg toward your hand. Repeat the same movement for the left leg.
Lie in a prone position (on stomach) with your arms out to your sides and swing your right leg across your back up to your left hand. Keep your shoulders and chest as flat against the ground as possible. Like Cross Over, there will be a good amount of rotation in your torso and hips as you swing your leg over. Repeat the same movement for the left leg.
Stand with your feet about shoulder width apart and your toes pointing straight ahead. It’s okay if your toes are pointing slightly outward. Sit back with your butt like you’re sitting down in a chair until your thighs are parallel to the ground. Drive your heels down and return to the standing position, ensuring your lower back stays in a neutral position.
#5. Walking Lunge
Step forward with your right leg, flexing the knees and dropping your hips. Descend until your left knee almost touches the ground. Drive your right heel into the ground and push yourself back to a standing position while taking a step forward. Repeat with the opposite leg. Maintain a tall posture, and ensure your knee does not go too far beyond the toes while lunging.
#6. Walking Leg Swings (Zombie Walk)
With your hands straight out in front of you (like a zombie!), swing your right leg up toward your right hand. Keep both knees as straight as possible, and repeat on the opposite side.
#7. High-knee Skips:
Skip forward and drive your right knee up so it’s about parallel to the ground and drive your foot back down to the ground. Alternate each leg. Keep you back ball with an exaggerated arm swing and make sure you don’t slam your feet on the ground.
#8. Side Leg Swings
While standing in front of a wall or pole for suppost, swing your leg parallel to the support so your foot comes up about hip level. Make sure to swing your leg fully extended but not forcefully locked.
Dynamic Warm-up Q&A
To help get you started, I answered some of the most common questions you have asked me regarding dynamic warm-ups, stretching, and when you should do these exercises.
When Should I do This Routine?
This is dynamic warm-up so it’s done before you run, preferably right before running.
If you are traveling somewhere to run (like so many of us do) and won’t be able to get on the ground to do the first couple of exerises, just do the floor exercises at home and the standing exercises when you arrive right before you start running.
How Many Times Per Week Can I do This Routine?
Personally, I consider this an “easy” warm-up routine, so it’s best used before short, easy runs.
For faster workouts, long runs, and other challenging runs (like races), I suggest a more standard warm-up (coming soon!)
Is The Order of Exercises Important?
Absolutely! The sequence goes from general to more specific (floor to standing); simple to complex.
One of The Exercises Causes Pain – What Should I Do?
Skip it. None of these exercises should cause any discomfort, pain (especially sharp or stabbing pain), or hurt in any way.
Ally Gonzales is the founder & editor-in-chief of RunningSoleGirl. Along with blogging she is also juggling attending college and majoring in Exercise and Sports Science with a Sports Management minor.