Your Trusted, In-Network PT Provider


Dynamic Warm-Up Exercises for Running

Home News & Videos Injury Prevention Dynamic Warm-Up Exercises for Running

Whether you’ve been running for decades or are training for your first 5K, you’ve probably encountered a running injury before. Shin splints, runner’s knee, and other repetitive stress injuries are very common. It’s estimated that half of all runners experience an injury every year.

Dynamic warm-up exercises for running can help reduce your chances of injury while also boosting performance. At JAG Physical Therapy, we’ve helped countless athletes at all levels of sports learn the best ways to warm up, avoid injury, optimize their running gait, and beyond. Book an appointment at your nearest JAG PT location today to take advantage of our top-quality sports medicine services or read on to learn more about how to take your running warm-ups to the next level.

What Are Dynamic Warm-Up Exercises for Runners?

Dynamic warm-up exercises are sequences of movements designed to warm up the body for a specific sport or workout. For runners, this includes ergonomic stretches and strengthening exercises that increase blood flow to the muscles in the legs, enhance stability, and help your joints move more smoothly.

After a dynamic warm-up, you’ll have less stiffness and your muscles and joints will be ready to take on the challenges and stresses running puts on the body. If you are injured, recovering from an injury, or unsure of how to properly perform the following exercises, it’s best to consult with a physical therapist. 

Which Dynamic Exercises Should Runners Include in Their Warm-Up Routine?

There are several dynamic stretches every runner should include in their warm-up to prime their body for a run. Here are five of the most important. For each exercise, aim for 20 reps on each side (40 in total). 

Knee Hugs with Calf Raises

To perform this dynamic exercise, lift one knee to the chest and pull it up with both hands while coming up on your toe on your standing foot. Step forward and repeat with the other leg.

Walking forward while performing this exercise will stretch the lower back, warm up your calves, and increase hip mobility.

Toy Soldier Walk

Emulating the stiff gait of a mechanical toy can help you achieve deep, effective stretching. Raise your arms straight over your head and walk forward by lifting one leg straight up. As you lift your leg, bring the opposite hand down to touch your toe. Keep your toes flexed and your back straight when you lift each leg.

This exercise strengthens your hip flexors and quadriceps, while simultaneously providing a healthy stretch for your hamstrings.

Lunge and Reach

Step forward into a lunge while raising the opposite hand straight up in the air. Continue marching forward as you alternate your legs and arms.

The lunge and reach is important for stretching your hip flexors while strengthening your hamstrings, glutes, quads, and calves and protecting your knee joints from injury.

High Knees

Push off your straight leg, lifting your other knee as high as you can. Alternate your legs while moving forward.

High knees are excellent for strengthening the core, hips, and glutes, making this an excellent dynamic exercise to increase mobility and stability.

Glute Kicks

While jogging forward, kick your feet to your buttocks. You should land on your toes with each step.

This exercise strengthens your hamstrings and glutes and teaches your feet to land properly, improving your running form. It also can help increase your cadence, which can take stress off your knees while running.

The Science Behind Dynamic Warm-Ups

During a dynamic warm-up, you’re doing more than just getting your blood flowing. By moving through these fluid sequences, you activate the muscles used during a run. As a result, you can:

  • Increase functional mobility, helping your body adjust to the physiological demands of your run
  • Familiarize your neural pathways with the movements you’ll use during your run

What Are the Advantages of Regularly Performing Dynamic Warm-Ups Before Running?

Regularly performing dynamic warm-ups before running helps to increase mobility and flexibility and strengthen key areas of the body so you can run faster and longer without getting injured. It takes a little extra time — about 10 to 15 minutes before each run. But by priming your body before exercise, you can count on fewer injuries and better performance.

JAG Physical Therapy: Your Partner in Better Running and Better Health

At JAG PT, our sports medicine specialists are experienced at designing customized warm-up programs. Whether you are returning to running after an injury or looking to train more efficiently and safely, we can help you run smarter with a warm-up routine that’s tailored to your goals. To begin your journey today, find a clinic location nearest to you in New York, New Jersey, or Pennsylvania, or contact us for further details on how we can support you in living a healthier life.