People often forget that running is a workout, says San Francisco-based sports medicine doctor and trainer Anthony Gustin, a chiropractor and certified strength and conditioning specialist. “That’s why it’s important to warm up for it, the way you would for any other workout or training session.”
Gustin recommends performing dynamic movements and stretches for 5–15 minutes before your runs, to boost circulation. “When you get your blood flowing in a proper way, you’ll recover faster, not to mention help prevent injuries,” Gustin says. “Prepping the muscles can also improve your running form.”
Here are five pre-run moves to help you get the most from your miles:
1. THORACIC ROTATION
Why do it: Your upper back needs to be loose for your hips to move properly, Gustin says.
The move: Get onto your hands and knees in a table-top position. Place your right hand on the back of your head, and keeping your hips still, twist your upper body up to the right in a controlled, fluid motion. Return your right hand to the floor, and repeat on the left side. Perform 6–12 reps, or until you feel loose.
2. ACTIVE STRAIGHT-LEG RAISE
Why do it: This helps gently loosen the muscles along your back side or posterior chain, in trainer speak.
The move: Lie on your back with your left knee bent and left foot flat on the floor, and your right leg straight. Pull your abs toward your spine to stabilize your core, and lift your right leg off the floor until it’s perpendicular to the ceiling. Slowly lower and repeat for 5–15 reps. Switch legs and repeat.
3. PRIMAL PULL-THROUGH
Why do it: This move stretches your upper back and hamstrings, to help balance out the repetitive muscular contractions to come. (Loosening these muscles can help prevent shin splints and patellar tendonitis.)
The move: Get into a straight-arm plank position, and in one fluid motion, pull your hips back into a downward-facing dog pose. Slide your body back into a straight-arm plank, and repeat for 5–15 reps.
4. WALKING LUNGES WITH THORACIC TWIST
Why do it: You’ll warm up your legs and back, along with your entire core.
The move: With your fingers interlaced behind your head, step forward with your right foot into a lunge, lowering your body until your front knee reaches 90 degrees. Next, twist to your right and then the left, and press up to start. Step forward with your left foot into a lunge, twisting left then right, and press back up. Repeat 6–12 times, as space allows.
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5. HIGH SKIPS
Why do it: These prep your hips, calves and ankles for your run.
The move: Skip forward, but instead of pressing forward from the balls of your feet, press up as high as you can, pulling the opposite knee up toward the ceiling. Repeat for 6–12 skips, or as space allows.
GEAR UP FOR YOUR NEXT WORKOUT