6 Pre-Run Warm-Up Exercises

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6 Pre-Run Warm-Up Exercises

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It’s tempting to jump right into your run and get started, but warming up before your run will improve your performance and help you stay injury-free. You don’t need an elaborate warm-up program. Just do a few simple exercises to get your blood flowing, your heart rate up, and your muscles warmed and ready to go. Here are warm-up exercises to include in your pre-run routine.

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Walking Lunges

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Walking lunges are the same as basic standing forward lunges, except that you alternate legs and you keep walking (moving) forward. Here's what to do:

1. Start by standing with good posture. Your feet should be hip to shoulder width apart, and your arms should be at your sides.

2. Take a big step forward with your right leg, keeping upper body as straight as possible.

3. Lunge until your front thigh is parallel to the ground and your back knee is close to the floor.

4. Both knees should be bent at approximately 90 degrees. Make sure your front knee doesn't go past your toes.

5. Keep your eyes looking straight ahead, and don't look down.

6. Bring up your back leg and step forward, then repeat moves from step 2, alternating legs.

7. Do 10 lunges out, then turn around and do 10 back to where you started. 

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Jumping Jacks

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You may not have done them since high school gym class, but jumping jacks are a fantastic warm-up exercise. Here's what to do:

1. Stand with your feet together, knees slightly bent, and arms at your sides. 

2. Jump while raising your arms and bringing your legs out to your sides. Try to get your legs about shoulder-width apart or slightly wider. 

3. As you're moving your legs out, raise your arms up over your head.

4. Land on your forefoot with your legs apart and arms overhead. 

5. Jump again while lowering your arms and returning your legs to the starting position.

6. Go back and repeat Steps 2-5. Do 20 jumping jacks as part of your pre-run warm-up.

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High Knees

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This exercise really engages and warms-up your leg muscles and hip flexors, the muscles that allow you to lift your knees up. Here's what to do:

1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart and hold your arms at your sides, as you do when you're running.

2. Lift one knee up and then bring it down. As you touch the ground with the ball of your foot, bring the other knee up. 

3. Keep jumping from one foot to the other as you're lifting your knees up. Repeat until you've done 10 knee lifts on each side.

Variation:  You can also do knee lifts as you're slowly moving forward, rather than standing in place.

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Front Kick Opposite Toe Touch

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This exercise will help warm-up your entire body, especially your hips and hamstrings.

1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your hands on your hips. Tighten your abs to stabilize your trunk.

2. Raise your left leg to the front of the body until it's parallel to the ground.

3. At the same time, rotate your trunk toward your left as you extend your right arm forward. Reach with your right hand toward your left foot, while your left arm reaches behind you.

4. Return to the starting position.

5. Raise your right leg to the front of the body until it's parallel to the ground. 

6. At the same time, rotate your trunk toward your right as you extend your left arm forward. Reach with your left hand toward your left foot, while your right arm reaches behind you.

7. Return to the starting position. Keep repeating Steps 2-6 until you've completed 10 reps with each leg.

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Knee Lift With Twist

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This exercise will get your whole body, especially your core, warmed-up for your run. Here's what to do:

1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart and hold your arms up in front of your chest, like a boxing stance. 

2. Using your obliques to drive the movement, twist your upper body to right. Keep your hips and legs facing forward.

3. As you rotate to the right, raise your right knee. 

4. Lower your right leg and then twist to the left, while raising your left knee. 

5. Continue alternating knee lifts until you've done 10 reps on each leg.

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Opposite Toe Touches

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Opposite toe touches are another exercise that will get your core and upper body warmed-up. Here's what to do:

1. Stand with your feet a little wider than shoulder-width apart and your arms stretched out in “T” formation.

2. Bend at your waist and touch your left toe with your right fingers.

3. Look up to the ceiling (sky, if you're outside) following your left arm which should be pointing up.

4. Return to the starting position and bend at the waist again.

5. Reach down with your left hand to touch your right toes with your right arm stretched up. Repeat the right/left cycle 10 times.

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