The Best Stretches to Do Before Running - the 8 Most Simple & Effective
Warming up is one of the most important steps for maintaining an injury-free training program - but many of wonder exactly what the perfect warm-up looks like. Runners and experts have been arguing for years on that one, but the general consensus is that light jogging combined with dynamic stretches that move your joints through full ranges of motion and allow your muscles to absorb oxygen are the best ways to get them ready to work.
Before you run, spend a few minutes lightly jogging followed by these 8 dynamic stretches.
What Can You Do On Your Own?
If your hip pointer pain is not acute, there are several things you can easily do to manage it. Hip point pain can make everything from climbing, walking to bending quite difficult. However, with the following tips from various professionals in the industry, you can easily manage your pain.
#1. Walking Lunges
We’re all familiar with a classic lunge. Take it up a notch with these walking lunges that help open up your most important muscle groups for running.
- Stand upright, feet together, and take a step step forward with your right leg. Lower your hips toward the floor by bending both knees to 90-degree angles. The back knee should point toward but not touch the ground, and your front knee should be directly over the ankle.
- Press your right heel into the ground, and push off with your left foot to bring your left leg forward, stepping with control into a lunge on the other side. Take 10 full steps (5 lunges on each leg).
#2. Kneeling Hip Flexor
A great everyday stretch, especially if you spend a lot of time sitting down. Opens up your hips and thighs, and stretches out your calves.
- Begin in in a lunge position, with your left leg bent at a 90 degree angle and your right leg extended straight back. Press hips forward until you feel tension in the front of your right thigh. Press your right heel towards the ground to feel a stretch in your right calf. Extend arms overhead, with elbows close to head and palms facing each other, and slightly arch your back while keeping your chin parallel to the ground. Hold for a few seconds and then lower your arms and switch sides.
#3. Side Stretch
Your body craves a good side stretch (which is why most of us inherently do this first thing in the morning). It’s great for stretching abdominals and maintaining a flexible back.
- Stand with your feet together and inhale as you extend your arms straight up overhead. Clasp your hands together.
- Breathe out as you bend your upper body to the right, stopping when you feel the stretch in your left side. Take three deep breaths. Slowly return to the center. Repeat on the left side
#4. Dynamic Pigeon Pose
“Pigeon” is a popular yoga pose, known as the king of hip openers. Modified here to allow more oxygen into your abdomen. Practice this stretch on a regular basis and you will certainly feel the difference!
- Begin by sitting on your heels, then move your right foot in front of you so that your your knee is pointing out to the right slightly and the outside of your thigh and shin are on the floor. Extend your left leg behind you, keeping it straight. Slightly arch your back as your extend your arms over your head, grabbing your left elbow with your right hand to give your torso some room to breath. Hold each arm for two deep breaths. Then switch legs and repeat.
#5. Hip Circles
Guide your hips through a full range of motion with this easy, injury-reducing exercise.
- Stand straight with your feet a little wider than shoulder width apart. Bend the knees slightly and place your hands on your hips.
- Slowly rotate your hips, making big circles.
- Make five full rotations, then switch and do five full rotations in the opposite direction.
#6. Round-the-World Lunges
This exercise combines a series of lunge variations to give your hips, glutes and quads a great warm-up.
- Start with a standard forward lunge, with your front leg at a 90 degree angle and your back leg straight. Hold it for two deep breaths. Then switch to the other side.
- Return to a standing position and prepare for a side lunge. Use your right leg to take a large sideways step, keeping your left foot planted. With your left leg straight, bend your right knee until you feel tension in your inner left thigh. Hold for two deep breaths and switch sides.
- Return to a standing position and prepare for a back lunge. Use your right leg to take a large step backwards, keeping your left foot planted. Lower your hips so that you create a 90 degree angle at both knees, with your right knee facing the ground and your left knee parallel with your ankle (the same position as the “walking lunges” from earlier). Hold for two deep breaths and then switch sides.
- Forward lunge right, forward lunge left, side lunge right, side lunge left, back lunge right, back lunge left completes the Round-The-World Lunges.
#7 .Calf Raises
Calf raises may seem like a simple exercise, but are crucial for preventing shin splints and ankle injuries.
- With your legs straight and your feet slightly separated, raise your heels by extending your ankles as high as possible and flexing your calf. Ensure that the knee is kept straight, there should be no bending at any time. Hold this position for a few seconds before you start to go back down. Repeat 10 times.
- You can take this exercise a step further by standing on a step or ledge, with heels hanging off the edge. This allows you to do the exercise in reverse, and dip your heels down into a “V” position. This will give your calves a good stretch and feel great on your feet’s arches (please use common sense when choosing a ledge, as you may lose your balance).
#8. Stork Stretch
Your quads do a significant amount of work during a run, let them breathe with this easy stretch.
- Keeping your back straight and your eyes facing forward. Slowly pull the heel of your foot toward your butt, stopping when you feel tension in your quadriceps. Be sure to keep your hips and knees aligned with one another. Keep the knee of your supporting leg slightly bent. Hold for two deep breaths, then return to the starting position. Repeat with your left leg.
You’re done! Have a great run! And don’t forget to stretch post-run, too.