Proper Warm-Up for Runners

mobility performance running May 02, 2022

The warm-up is a crucial part of each training session. It serves multiple purposes. The warm-up should elevate your heart rate, prep the tissues for movement, and start to cycle you through the movements you will encounter during running. It's also a good time to check in with yourself mentally.

Unfortunately, most endurance athletes either neglect or rush through the warm-up. Some people spend unnecessary time on various forms of stretching, which are unlikely to have a favorable impact on flexibility, performance, and injury prevention. A dynamic warm-up is preferred for injury prevention and to improve performance by more effectively preparing the mind and body for the task at hand.

The warm-up starts with brisk walking with the arms pumping, aka fitness walking. Then, we move to various running-specific drills to improve single leg balance and motor control. After these drills, we top the warm-up off with some gentle skipping and a conversational pace run. 

After your training session, the cool-down should mimic your warm-up but at a lower intensity. The cool-down starts the recovery process, which should include moving, hydrating, eating the right foods, and plenty of sleep.

A proper dynamic warm-up will take about 15-20 minutes to complete. The warm-up should not be rushed. It should be purposeful to prepare you for the training session you are about to complete.

The warm-up provided below is a general template. If you are experiencing any specific pain, injury, tightness, cramping, or restriction, then you should modify the warm-up to include drills targeting those areas. We are talking and, not or. Don't just replace these drills. Add your specific exercises to the mix. If you are not sure what specific exercises you should be adding, then that is where we come in. At Beyond Movement PT, we commonly prescribe individualized mobility drills to help people through specific issues.


Dynamic Warm-Up for Runners

Athletic Walking x 5-10 Minutes

Brisk walking while pumping your arms like they would be during running.

Heel to Toe Walking x 30 Seconds

Link to video

Marching with Knee to Chest x 30 Seconds

Link to video

Marching with Overhead Reach x 30 Seconds

Link to video

Marching with Hip Rotator Stretch x 30 Seconds

Link to video

Lunging with Cross Body Reach x 30 Seconds

Link to video

Quadriceps Stretching with Overhead Reach x 30 Seconds

Link to video

Hamstring Stretching with Hip Hinge x 30 Seconds

Link to video

Skipping x 30 Seconds

Link to video

Conversational Pace Running x 3-5 Minutes

Short run at a casual pace that allows you to easily breath and communicate.


Looking for more?

Click here to download our Guide to Injury-Free Running e-book for free!

If you are having pain with running or want to run more efficiently, contact us to get started.


Corey Hall, PT, DPT


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