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Dynamic Running Warm-Up Exercises

By Reem Jishi | Sept. 17, 2021, 5:30 p.m. (ET)

Hello runners.  Let’s talk about dynamic warm-up exercises.  Before we get into the details, let me ask you - how do you warm-up before a run?  Do you walk out the door and start running?  Guilty - right?  In our crazy lives, we are often time pressed and the warm-up seems like the easy thing to let go.  But hopefully, you’ll see that spending the time to do a warm-up is well worth it.  

So first, what are dynamic warm-up exercises?  Basically, they are functional based movements done before exercise to prepare your body for the exercise ahead.  The movements patterns - and the muscles used - are similar to the sport you are about to do, but are less intense.  So, for examples, your dynamic warm-up routine before you run is different from that of a ballerina or hockey player.    

Performing dynamic warm-up exercises has several benefits, including increasing blood flow to the muscles, raising your core body temperature, increasing heart are and activating the central nervous system.  A good dynamic warm-up routine can enhance athletic performance and reduce the risk of injury.  Plus, it’s a great time to get mentally ready for your workout.  

I am now going to take you through my favorite pre-run dynamic warm-up routine. In running, we use our calves, quads, hamstrings, hip flexors, glutes, core, chest and feet, and it’s important that we hit all of them in our routine.  

I always start my run sessions with a 5 minute walk. This just gets me going and starts to raise my heart rate and core body temperature, and wakes up my muscles a little. Then I’ll start the dynamic warm-up exercises:

  • Heel to toe walk
  • High Knees
  • Butt Kicks
  • Hugging High Knee to Foot Grab
  • Free Squats
  • Lunge with Arm Raise
  • Straight Leg Lunge with Twist
  • Sky reaches
  • Side Bends
  • Soldier Kicks

These are my favorites.  I do a variation of this routine before every run.  Before a more intense session, like a speed workout, I will also add in running drills like running high knees, butt kicks, skips, grapevines.  There are many options out there, so develop your own routine, but remember to focus on the muscles you use when you run.   Now go out and run!

Reem Jishi

Reem Jishi is a USAT Triathlon Level II Certified Coach and an Expert Level Coach with OutRival Racing (www.outrivalracing.com). She is also a certified personal trainer through the American College of Sports Medicine. Reem has been involved in the sport of triathlon as a participant since 2000 and a coach since 2010.