The stretching debate—both pre- and post-workout—seems never-ending. For Deena Kastor, however, the answer is simple. After all, performing dynamic stretches before runs has helped Kastor become a three-time Olympian (2000, 2004, 2008) and set several American distance-running records.
"Dynamic flexibility has a dual purpose of making you more limber while also activating major muscle groups," she says. "This is a great way to wake up and limber up your body."
I had a chance to run with Kastor at the 2015 Mammoth Running Escape sponsored by Pear Sports. During the retreat, Kastor spent some time showing attendees her go-to stretches.
Leg Swings (Front)1 of 10
Reach your left hand outward and hold something stable—trees, poles and pillars work best. Face forward and stare ahead.
Swing your left leg forward, keeping it as straight as possible. As you bring your left leg back down, use momentum to swing it behind your body. Continue the swinging motion for 10 reps. To switch sides, face the opposite direction and use the opposite hand to hold on to whatever you're using.
Benefits: Helps gain flexibility in your hamstrings and hip flexors.
Leg Swings (Side)2 of 10
Similar to the front and back leg swings, face something stable and hold on to it with both hands.
Swing your left leg as far you can across your body to the right, keeping it as straight as possible. As you bring your left leg back down, use momentum to swing it outward to the left. Continue the swinging motion for 10 reps. Switch sides.
Benefits: Helps open your hips.
Lunge Exchange (Mountain Climbers)3 of 10
Get into a plank position on your hands. Keeping your hands on the ground, bring your left leg forward into a lunge position.
Next, simultaneously jump your right leg forward and left leg back. Repeat this alternating pattern for 10 reps.
Benefits: Helps loosen up your glutes and hip flexors while slightly raising your heart rate.
Donkey Kicks4 of 10
While on your hands and knees with your back flat, bring your left leg back using your hamstrings and glutes. Keep your left leg bent and your left ankle flexed as you bring it upward. Try to get your left hamstring and back in a straight line.
Perform 10 reps with your left leg before switching sides.
Benefits: Helps warm up your glutes, hamstrings and lower back.
Fire Hydrants5 of 10
While on your hands and knees with your back flat, lift your left knee out to the side until it's perpendicular to the ground.
Slowly return your leg back to the starting position, but don't touch your knee to the ground and immediately lift your knee again to begin the next rep. Perform 10 reps with your left leg before switching sides.
Benefits: Helps warm up and activate the hip muscles.
Eagles6 of 10
Lie on your back with your arms outstretched to the side. Swing one leg at a time across your body.
Attempt to touch your toes to your opposite hand on each swing. Alternate legs and perform 10 reps per side.
Benefits: Helps open up your hips.
Plank Marches7 of 10
In a plank position on your hands, lift one hand a time in a slow, controlled motion and place it back down. Alternate hands and perform 10 reps per side.
Benefits: Helps warm up your core muscles and shoulders.
Plank Knee-to-Elbow Touches8 of 10
In a plank position on your hands, bring your left leg forward, attempting to touch your left knee to your left elbow. Perform 10 reps with your left leg before switching sides.
Benefits: Helps warm up your core muscles, shoulders and hip flexors.
Notes From Kastor9 of 10