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Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned marathon runner, everyone can remember a time in their running journey when stretching was overlooked and resulted in an injury. Not only are these injuries debilitating, but they halt running progress while waiting on the lengthy healing process. Sprains and strains remind us how important it is to incorporate stretching before those long runs. Now, which type of stretching is the most beneficial to runners? There are many types of stretching that target different areas, but the one that is the most effective before running is dynamic stretching. Dynamic stretching prepares your muscles by using a full range of motion with controlled movements. According to the Cleveland Clinic, the benefits are to improve agility, acceleration, and performance. Incorporating these ten dynamic stretches before your run may lessen your chance of injury.

LEg pendUlum

This dynamic warm-up is commonly done by runners because it increases the blood flow to the leg muscles without limiting performance afterward. Explicitly preparing the hip flexors and hamstrings for running.

  • To begin, ensure you’re in an area with a lot of room and if needed, find a stable object to hold onto for extra balance.
  • Stand with one leg and move the other straight in a swing-like motion without bending your knee.
  • Switch legs and repeat the motion, speeding up or increasing the range of motion if desired.
  • While keeping your core engaged, do this 5-10 times on each leg.

Walking lunge

This exaggerated running form can help stimulate the quads, hamstrings, glutes, and core before your run. They also stabilize the hips and can reveal the first sign of weakness in these muscles, which can help prevent injury.

  • Start standing with your hands on your waist or in front of you to help balance.
  • Take a large step forward and lunge, keeping your front knee aligned with your hip and not passing your front toes. As a result, your back knee will be parallel to the floor without touching.
  • Using your back leg, push off the floor and switch lunge positions with the other leg.
  • Make sure to keep your core engaged to avoid arching your back.
    Complete 2 sets of 10 repetitions on each leg.

hip circles

This mobility exercise helps strengthen back muscles while boosting hip flexibility. Many runners can experience wear and tear on the hip joint over the years, so it is essential to warm the surrounding muscles up for better flexor support. Correctly adding this to your daily routine can lessen knee and back pain.

  • While standing with your hands on your hips, gently move one leg straight to the side and make small circles in the air with your foot.
  • Work up to bigger circles as you become more flexible.
  • Repeat 20 times on each leg.

heel kicks

This warm-up is excellent to use for increasing speed. Not only does this motion help with acceleration, but it also triggers those fast-twitch muscle fibers in your legs that strengthen sprinting and jumping. Athletes also use this technique when running because the movement reduces the stress on your hip flexors.

  • Start by jogging in place for 10-15 seconds to warm up.
  • As you jog in place, kick your heels back further until they hit your gluteus muscles.
  • Do this for 30 seconds with breaks in between.

high knees

This dynamic warm-up exercise is fantastic for increasing your heart rate before your run while also helping muscle endurance and coordination in your lower body. However, high knees can be hard on the joints. If you have knee problems, opt for the low-impact variation high-knee march.

  • While standing with your knees slightly apart, alternate lifting your knees quickly up to your chest. Keep your core engaged.
  • Holding your arms in front and trying to get your knees as high as possible can be helpful.
  • Do this for 30 seconds with breaks in between.

torso twist

These twists help create more flexibility and strength in the spine and core, improving balance. And they’re easy!

  • While standing with feet shoulder-width apart, extend your arms to your sides.
  • Start by slowly twisting the torso and shoulders left and right at a 90-degree angle. Avoid forcing the movement.
  • Repeat a few times for warm-up.

Straight leg kicks

Not only a great dynamic stretch for the hamstrings, but it’s also an excellent stabilizer for the core. Just be careful not to overextend your range of motion to avoid injury.

  • While standing, kick one of your legs out with your toes pointed toward the sky.
  • Reach your opposite arm towards those toes.
  • Switch sides and repeat until your muscles are loosened, and you’re ready for your run.

arm circles

The shoulder has the most extensive range of movement because it is a ball and socket joint. Because of this more significant range of motion, there is a greater chance of injury, which is why it is one of the most critical places to stretch. Although there are different ways to advance this stretch, such as using weights, these beginner arm circles prep your upper body for that next run.

  • With your feet shoulder-width apart, stand with your arms facing outward parallel to the ground.
  • Begin to circle your arms forward, starting small and gradually getting bigger.
  • Reverse the circles for a stretch in the triceps.

lunge with a twist

Like the walking lunge, the core, glutes, and legs are activated during the lunge with a twist. However, this dynamic movement might require more effort in the balance department!

  • While standing, lunge forward with your right leg and twist your torso to the right. 
  • Return to the starting position and repeat with the left side.  
  • Alternate on both sides a few times.

goblet squat

This exercise is a perfect stretch for squatting beginners! It works all muscle groups of the lower body, making you stronger and in the long run faster.

  • While standing in a wide stance with toes pointing slightly outward, push your hips back and bend your knees to lower down like sitting in a chair.
  • Keep your chest facing forward with your core engaged, and use your elbows to gently push apart your knees for a wider squat.
  • Lower down until your hips are slightly lower than your knees.
  • Press through your heels until you are back to a standing position.
  • Do this 30 times and take breaks as needed.


Take charge of your body, incorporate these dynamic stretches in your routine run, and feel the difference afterward! Not only is stretching crucial for running but having a recovery routine is ideal too. Staying hydrated, refueling with carbs, and foam rolling are great examples of repairing your body after a long run. Fit2Run offers excellent recovery tools, such as the Pro-Tec Foam Y Roller, which can enhance performance. Overall, these ten warm-ups are only the tip of the iceberg regarding the wide variety of stretches to do before a run. Stop by your nearest Fit2Run retail location and let one of our Fit Experts answer any of your stretching questions and ensure you have the gear you need to stay injury-free.

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