Before You Run: The Dynamic Warm-Up

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A dynamic warm-up is one that challenges every part of your body that you use to run.

Your body is a machine—your machine—and there are lots of moving parts. Your cardio capacity is certainly a driving factor in your performance, but your ability to get the most from your cardio endurance is highly dependent on your body's ability to transfer your effort efficiently, from head to toe and on to the pavement, during each and every running stride.

A dynamic warm-up coordinates all of your moving parts—muscles, ligaments, and joints—by challenging your flexibility, mobility, strength and stability all at once; because that's what you ask of yourself when you run, right?! Doing so is pivotal in getting you to the finish line as fun, fast and pain-free as possible.

More: Hip Strengthening and Mobility Exercises for Runners

The Goals of a Dynamic Warm-Up

? Increase heart rate to get the blood pumping through the body and warm up the muscles.

? Open up your joints, especially those within the hips, spine, feet and ankles.

? Actively stretch your muscles to prepare them for what you'll be asking them for during the run.

? Reinforce great posture.

? Hit the ground running with all systems go when the gun goes off!

The Keys to a Dynamic Warm-Up

? Think of it as a part of the race. Do it!

? Set aside time dedicated to it. Whether it's 30 minutes or two minutes, you can do your body good.

? Clear your mind and focus on your body. Save chit-chatting with friends for before or after the race.

? Move through the movements purposefully but continuously so that your heart rate increases throughout.

The Key Elements of a Dynamic Warm-Up

[NOTE: Click on exercise names for a link to videos of the exercises.]

1. Great Posture

  • Stand tall, like a string is attached to the top of your head gently pulling upward.
  • Stand with feet shoulder width apart and pointing straight forward.
  • Tighten key abdominals by pulling the bellybutton inward and rib cage downward.
  • Pull the shoulders back and downward while keeping arms relaxed.

More: Exercise Your Way to Perfect Running Posture

2. Fire Up Your Glutes, Then Use Them, Always

Two Options:

    Glute Bridge: Lying on your back, bend your knees to 90 degrees, keep heels on floor while pulling toes to your shins. Use your glutes to raise your hips so they are in a straight line with your knees and shoulders. Keep hips parallel to the ground. Hold for two seconds. Release, then repeat 10 times.

    Lateral Lunge: Start with great posture and your feet wider than your shoulders. From there, squat your hips down and over to the right while keeping your left leg straight. Keeping your feet flat on the ground, use your right glute to push you up to your starting position. Repeat on the left side. Do 10 total.

3. Open Up Your Joints and Stretch the Muscles Around Them

Spine: Flex, extend, rotate and laterally bend the spine. Do this by rounding the back while reaching for your toes and then extending your back in the opposite direction. Then do a few side bends while keeping your abdominals and hips locked in place.

More: 5 Key Stretches for Runners