We’re all guilty of just throwing on our shoes and heading out the door before giving a second thought to whether our bodies are even properly prepared for it. Just like in the gym, a sufficient warm-up is crucial to perform before going on a run. It is an important habit to develop to help avoid any injuries.

Warming up properly will help “increase range of motion, make the body more flexible, and allow for better movement,” Aubrey Watts, C.S.C.S., performance center coordinator and assistant strength coach at the National Strength and Conditioning Association.”Without a proper warm-up, you are increasing your potential risk of injury while also missing out on the benefits of increasing your mobility.” While you might not feel any aches or pains, you probably aren’t running as efficiently as you might be able to. Take a quick 5 minutes out of your routine to add in this essential warm-up, that will help to prepare your body. “If you are about to go for a run or do some sprinting intervals, you may want to prime your hips and ankles, and activate the glutes as well,” she says.

“Running is a repetitive movement that requires a combination of strength, stability and flexibility for optimal performance,” Robbie Ann Darby, an ACE-certified personal trainer in New York City, explains “Therefore, each exercise address these three components in order to prep the major muscles in the body specifically for this forward accelerated movement.”

Warm-Up Summary:

• Squats w/ Hip Rotation
• Glute Bridges w/ Knee Drives
• Pendulum Lunges w/ Balance & Side Bends
• High Knees to Heel Kicks
• Plank Variations w/ Knee Drives

Darby suggests doing each exercise for 45 to 60 seconds.

Squats w/Hip Rotation

“This mobility exercise is great for firing up the glutes and opening up the hips,” Darby says.

• Start standing, legs are shoulder-width apart.
• Perform a standard squat
• While standing back up, lift knee toward chest, circle it outward to open hips
• Place foot back down and lower into another squat
• Alternate sides for 45-60 seconds

Glute Bridges w/Knee Drives

“This exercise is great for strengthening the posterior chain and lengthening the quads while improving core stabilization—all necessary components for an optimal running gait,” Darby says.

• Lie on back, knees bent with flat feet
• Lift hips, pushing from your heels, engage hamstrings and squeeze glutes
• Hold bridge and engage your core, drive knee to the same-side shoulder, return to bridge and lower pelvis to the ground
• Alternate sides for 45-60 seconds

Pendulum Lunges w/ Balance and & Bends

“This movement pattern mimics the forward momentum and core engagement needed in running, as well as lengthens the hip flexors on the reverse lunge portion,” Darby says.

• Stand with feet hip-width apart and hands out, in a goalpost position.
• Stepping into a lunge, bend both knees at 90-degree angle to the floor, hold for two seconds
• Engage core, push off your front heel to return to middle, balancing on your front leg
• Immediately step back into reverse lunge. Hold back knee a couple inches off the floor as you reach the same-side arm overhead into a side bend. Keep your chest lifted and shoulders engaged
• Push off your front heel to return to the middle (balancing on one leg).
• Continue pendulum movement back and forth on the same leg for 8 to10 reps, repeat on the other side.

High Knees to Heel Kicks

“This cardio warm-up helps activate the muscles in the quads, glutes, and hamstrings,” Darby says.

• Alternate between high knees and heel kicks, either in place or moving.
• Hold chest high, back straight, while keeping core engaged
• Alternate sides for 45-60 seconds

Plank Variations With Knee Drives

“This ‘triple threat’ addition to a traditional plank is an excellent warm-up for the core and helps develop hip mobility—which is key in running,” Darby says.

• Start in high plank, feet hip distance apart
• Keep core engaged with hips neutral, drive one knee to the opposite elbow, return to plank and drive the same knee to your chest, return again to plank and drive the same knee to the outside of the same-side arm
• Repeat on the other leg, alternate sides for 45 to 60 seconds

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