Instead, a dynamic warm-up is a better idea: these specific types of stretches increase your heart rate, literally warm up your muscles, improve your range of motion, lubricate your joints, and prepare your body for the act of running.
A dynamic stretching sequence that has worked for many runners is the Standard Warm-Up Routine that uses both sitting and standing movements, light strength work, and exercises that loosen up your hips and glutes before running.
You might think that "those crazy exercises" are only for professional and really fast runners, but you can benefit, too. A simple 5- to 7-minute routine can work wonders at improving your flexibility and strength while lowering your risk of getting a serious overuse injury.
Follow Every Run with General Strength
The term "general strength" simply means a strength or core routine that helps you become a more well-rounded, balanced athlete. Runners need to be athletic if they want to run faster and prevent injuries—just think, if you have little core strength and no balance, how can you expect to excel at intervals and long runs without injuring yourself?
There are a lot of options for strength workouts, but be sure to do runner-specific strength work that focuses on the areas that are critical for injury prevention like the hips and glutes. These muscles are typically weak in most runners, and disproportionately contribute to overuse injuries.
Two routines that I use in my own running—and with hundreds of other runners I've coached—are the Standard Core Routine and the ITB Rehab Routine. Both provide balanced strength in the hips, glutes, lower back, abdominals, obliques and hamstrings, and each take less than 10 minutes to complete once you know the order of the exercises.
When you start implementing both a dynamic warm-up routine and a post-run general strength session, you'll start to see results almost immediately. Many runners report that the chronic aches and pains that seem inevitable with running are less common. And the big injuries that sideline you for weeks (or worse, months) are very rare.
No injury prevention strategy is a silver bullet, but the majority of runners will see dramatic changes in their susceptibility to injuries with these two simple changes to their training.
For more on staying healthy, including illustrations of all the exercises in each of these routines, you can join this free email course on injury prevention and how to reach your running goals.race.