Flexibility Series for Runners: Part 2

Dynamic Stretching: The Warmup

So in part 1, we talked about the ways that dynamic stretching, foam rolling, and static stretching work together to help improve and maintain your flexibility and prevent injury and when it’s best to do these activities. In part 2, let’s delve further into dynamic stretching. 

Dynamic stretches are designed to get your body ready to move. For running, it’s super helpful to spend a few minutes before a long run doing a few different movements to lengthen muscles and prepare for the work ahead. Of course you will focus mostly on leg muscles, but don’t ignore your core or arms, especially on those double digit runs. 

My basic pre-run routine is as follows: 

  • Leg pendulum swings
    • Front to back
    • Side to side
      • Try to do about 10 of these on each leg.
      • These hit all of your major hip muscles. 
      • You may find it easier to do these if you are holding on to something for balance. I often touch my car or my porch rail, or the arm supports of the treadmill, depending on where I’m running!
Leg pendulum swings front to back
  • Butt kicks
    • These are a great warm-up for your distal quads.
    • Try to do about 10 on each leg.
Butt kicks

If I’m running about 10k or less, I stop here. But for double digit runs, I also add these:

  • Trunk rotations
    • With arms out to your side, simply rotate side to side to warm up your core. Do 10-20 of these. It’s really amazing how much you use these muscles while running!
Trunk rotations
  • Arm swings
    • Simply swing your arms front to back, letting them choose a natural path. Do 10-20 of these. I think I get just as fatigued in my arms and shoulders as I do in my legs during double digit runs, so I definitely do these before!
Arm swings
  • This is also the time to do some short static stretches, 30 seconds or less, to focus on some areas that may typically cause discomfort on a run. 
    • Have you had calf or ankle pain? Do a few calf stretches. 
    • Have a grumpy set of hamstrings? Do a standing hamstring stretch. 
    • IT band acting up? Do a standing stretch to focus on this area. 
    • I’ll have more about these in my final article in the series. 

Corral dynamic stretches

If you are stuck in a corral and have limited space before a race, you can do these: 

  • low squat, gently wiggling side to side for about 30 seconds at a time. 
  • Butt kicks are also doable in a small space.
  • Lunges, maybe modified for space, may also be possible, both forward and lateral. 

Keep in mind that there are additional recommended dynamic stretches for speed/track work, which is a more specific workout. 

In addition to these simple stretches, it’s important on the long run especially to not start out too fast, using the first couple of miles to ease into the work ahead. 

On your next run, try some dynamic stretches first, and see if your run is more comfortable!

More in my Flexibility Series for Runners:

Part 1

Part 3

Part 4

Do you take the time to do dynamic stretches before your runs? What are some of your favorites? I’d love to hear about it! As always, I hope you all are safe and healthy.

*I offer this advice as a courtesy, and bear no responsibility for injuries incurred if you take my advice. Please consult your doctor if injured.*

Published by annecreates

I am a physical therapist, wife, mom, runner, artist, and vegan. I'm passionate about helping others find wellness! Assistant Coach for the Sports Backers Marathon Training Team. Current ambassador for: Nuun, Switch4Good, and Foot Levelers Blue Ridge Marathon 2021.

7 thoughts on “Flexibility Series for Runners: Part 2

  1. I’m horrible about not stretching before a run. I may a little after a run, but I know I don’t do enough. So far, it’s not been an issue, but there’s no guarantee that will continue. I’ll need to keep these in mind.

    Liked by 1 person

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