Dynamic Warmup for Runners

Warmup for Runners Injury Prevention Run Warmup Stretch

If you’re a runner, it’s likely that you’ve experienced some sort of discomfort, ache or pain along the way. In fact, it’s been reported that as many as 90% of runners miss training time each year due to injuries. Fortunately, running pains are not necessarily an inevitability.

A good warmup, prior to exercising, loosens up your body and gets the blood flowing, gradually raising your heart rate to make it easier to get into a good rhythm. Dynamic stretching before a run has shown to help with poor posture, faulty running mechanics and injury prevention. It can also work wonders in terms of improving your range of motion. If you experience aches and pains during or after your run, try this warmup to help and combat the likelihood of injury and give yourself a little peace of mind so you can run longer and stronger!

Estimated Time: 10 Minutes

Sunrise Stretch

Warmup for runners physical therapy dynamic warmup run injury

Where You’ll Feel It: Pecs and Mid Back
Lie on your side, bend both knees up toward your chest and place your bottom hand on top of your knees. Place your top arm out in front, reach up toward the ceiling and continue the rotation as far as possible. Hold for 2-3 seconds. Allow your head and chest to follow. Return to the starting position and perform 10 times each side.

Leg Swing

Leg Swing Exercise Dynamic Warmup Runners Run Injury

Where You’ll Feel It: Hamstrings and Hip Flexors
Swing your leg forward as high as you can and as far back as you can with controlled speed while keeping your knee straight and trunk upright. Perform 10 times on each leg.

Quad Stretch

Quad Stretch Warmup for Runners Exercise Stretch Dynamic Warmup Injury Prevention

Where You’ll Feel It: Thigh and Hip Flexor
Stand on one leg, grab your opposite ankle and pull your foot towards your butt. Keep your standing leg straight and the heel on the floor. Reach overhead with your other arm. Make sure that your bent knee is directly under your hip. (Optional – you can lift your heel and come up onto your toes). Don’t let your back arch. Hold for 3 seconds. Perform 10 times on each side.

Donkey Kick

Donkey Kick Dynamic Warmup for Runners Exercise Physical Therapy

Where You’ll Feel It: Glutes, Not Your Back!
Place a mini band around your knees. Start on your hands and knees. Align your hands directly under your shoulders and your knees directly under your hips. Engage your core by lightly bringing your belly button closer to the spine. Keep your core engaged and lift the right knee back like a kick. Think about kicking your heel towards the ceiling but avoid arching your back or twisting your hips. Perform 10 times on each side.

Runner’s Side Plank

Side Plank Dynamic Warmup for Runners Run Injury Prevention Stretch Exercise

Where You’ll Feel It: Core and Glutes
Lie on your side with your body and your legs in a straight line (like you are in a toaster slot). Bend the bottom of your knee 90 degrees and keep the top knee straight. Draw your belly button in towards your spine and engage your abs. Lift your hips up towards the ceiling, keeping your elbow stacked underneath your shoulders. While holding the plank position, bend your knee toward your chest and straight out to starting position (mimic running). Perform 10 times on each side.

Runner’s March

Runner's Side Plank Dynamic Warmup for Runners Physical Therapy Exercise Stretch Injury Prevention

Where You’ll Feel It: Glutes
Place a mini band around your ankles. Engage your core by lightly bringing your belly button closer to the spine to maintain neutral lumbar spine. March your knee up to hip level, pause for 1-2 seconds and then return to the starting position. Focus on slow, controlled movement. Drive the standing leg straight by squeezing your gluteal muscles. Perform 10 times on each side.

Side Steps

Side Steps Dynamic Warmup for Runners Runner Injury Prevention Physical Therapy Exercise Stretch

Where You’ll Feel It: Glutes / Outer Hips
Stand in a semi-squat position with your feet hip width apart and a mini band around your ankles. While always keeping tension in the band, take small steps to the left (Your stance should not be wider than your shoulders at any point). Focus on pushing off the trailing leg vs. reaching with the lead leg. Keep your knees pushed apart and your toes pointed straight forward. Repeat while moving to the right. Perform 10 steps to each side.

If you have any questions or any pain with these exercises, please consult a Therapydia physical therapist.

Health Benefits of Squatting

squat physical therapy

There are few exercises that exist that are more beneficial than the squat. Contrary to popular belief, when properly coached and progressed, squats are an excellent training tool for improving leg and hip strength, load tolerance in the knee, and core strength. While it is true that squats produce compressive loads within the knee joint and tensile loads of the ligaments and tendons of the knee, current research has shown that those loads are still below the maximum tolerable loads of those connective tissues. In fact, evidence also points to a higher levels of tensile strength and cross-sectional area (CSA) of the quad, patellar, and achilles tendons in athletes who have participated in weightlifting vs non-weightlifting sports. Strengthening exercises for the quads that allow for progressive loading, such as squats, can in fact reduce the long-term risk of injury.

Squats Can Actually Help Your Spine

When looking at the impact of squatting on the lumbar spine researchers have found no adverse effects on disc height in the long-term. In other words, the idea that barbel squats cause degeneration in the lumbar spine is based more on fear than science. In fact, the increase in demand on core musculature would indicate that loaded squatting improves the stability of the spine rather than the opposite.

As mentioned earlier, learning to squat can provide a whole host of benefits that outweigh the risks. Those benefits include:
1. Increased overall leg strength for daily activities.
2. Increased core strength for spine health.
3. Increased hip and ankle mobility with progressive loading.
4. Increased metabolic rate due to the increased muscle growth.
5. Improved movement patterns to minimize injury risk with other sports and activities.

If you are experiencing pain with squatting, consider meeting with a physical therapist to assess what the possible causes might be. Not everyone needs to squat the same and a good therapist will help identify what your limitations are and how to properly progress your program to continue to reap the benefits of squatting without increasing pain.