If you hate taking the time to stretch before you work out, you’re certainly not alone. However, if you’re skipping a warmup entirely, you could be doing your body a major disservice and be unintentionally sprinting down the fast track to injury.
The purpose of a dynamic warmup is to increase blood flow to the areas that will be working and wake up the nervous system. Research published in the Journal of Exercise Rehabilitation has shown that a good, fluid warmup can help increase range of motion and stave off injury.
“During a run, your body needs to stabilize your pelvis while allowing your legs to move freely, reacting to each step in a coordinated fashion,” says Dan Giordano, DPT, certified strength and conditioning specialist, and co-founder of Bespoke Treatments. “That’s a lot to ask from your body.”
Without properly priming the body with movement before transitioning to a run, you’re giving it a bit of a shock. So where to start? Giordano suggests with the hips. They’re critical to proper running form and often overlooked.
“If you’re only going to warm up one joint before you run, make it your hip and pelvis region…”
“If you’re only going to warm up one joint before you run, make it your hip and pelvis region,” Giordano says. “If you look at the hip positioning of a runner, it’s pretty much opposite of what it looks like while you’re sitting down. Your hips participate in all three planes of movement and can help to stabilize your lower leg when running while also producing a high degree of motion.” Weak or ineffective hip musculature can be linked to foot and ankle pain, as well as other common conditions like runner’s knee and IT band syndrome.
Here, Giordano offers five essential warmup moves to add to your pre-stride routine, ASAP. The best part? The whole thing will take you less than 5 minutes to complete and prep you for the work ahead.
1. 90/90 EXTERNAL ROTATION STRETCH
Sit on the floor with the right leg bent at a 90-degree angle, and the outside of the right leg on the floor and thigh extending straight forward from right hip. Position the left thigh at a 90-degree angle from the right thigh, pointing straight to the left, with knee bent at a 90-degree angle and inside of the leg on the floor. Placing hands lightly on the floor on either side of the right leg, gently lean forward over right leg. Hold for 2 seconds. Sit up straight then lean back, placing hands lightly on the floor behind hips. Hold for 2 seconds. Continue leaning forward and back for 30 seconds. Repeat on opposite side.
2. FORWARD LUNGE WITH ROTATION
Start standing with feet together. Reach both hands overhead with palms facing in. Step forward with your right leg and lower down, bending both knees to 90 degrees. Your back knee should come close, but never touch the ground. Reach toward the ground with your left arm, rotating your torso forward over your front leg. Hold for 3 seconds. Return to start by pushing through your right heel and return to standing. Repeat on the opposite leg. Do 10 alternating reps.
3. BEAST WALK
Start in tabletop position with toes tucked under, knee lifted a few inches off the ground. Using opposite arm and legs, begin moving forward. Continue crawling with knees hovered for 10 seconds. Rest 10 seconds. Repeat 6 times.
4. SINGLE LEG DEADLIFT TO KNEE DRIVE
Start standing with feet together. With back flat and abs tight, slowly hinge forward at the hips (keeping them neutral) while simultaneously bringing your left foot back behind you for balance. When your torso is almost parallel to the floor, engage your glutes and return to stand — driving the left knee forward and driving it up toward the chest. Balance for 3 seconds. Repeat on opposite side; continue alternating for 60 seconds.
5. 3D LUNGE WITH REACH
Start standing with feet together. Step your left foot out to the side and lower into a lateral lunge. Simultaneously, reach both arms toward the right side, aiming for about 3-feet in front of your planted right leg. Return to start. Continue for 30 seconds; repeat on opposite side.