Running with muscles that aren’t properly prepped can result in a muscle strain that keeps you off your feet — and off the road or trail — for days, weeks or even months. With dynamic stretching pre-run helps prepare your muscles. Focus on stretching the major muscle groups you’ll be using — quads, hamstrings, glutes and hip flexors — and don’t forget moves that also warm up your abs, back and calves.
The Best Pre-Run Stretches
Ready to run? Here are eight stretches to do before running that hit your quads, hamstrings, glutes, hip flexors, abs, back and calves. And remember: It’s important not to overstretch before your workout. Just take the stretch to the point where you feel resistance, not pain or discomfort.
1. Walking Lunge
Not only do walking lunges loosen up the major muscles used while running — specifically, the quads and hip flexors — but they also simulate the forward motion of running, which makes them particularly useful as a pre-run stretch, says Seamster.
- Stand with your feet together, and then take a long step forward with your right foot.
- Bend the front knee to 90 degrees and the back knee until it almost touches the ground.
- Stay here for a few seconds before rising up and take another big step forward on your left leg to get the stretch on your left side.
- Continue this way for about 10 lunges (five on each side).
2. Hip Flexor Stretch
If you sit at a desk all day, you probably have tight hip flexors, since they’re constantly in a state of flexion. This makes this pre-run stretch extra important before you work out, says Schultz.