Do you have a running warm up before you run or jog?
If you would have asked me before this summer I would have said no. Sure, I had some stretches I did before my runs, but never an actual thought-out running warm up.
However, the past 2+ months as I’ve been in physical therapy to rehab a partially torn ACL, my mindset around how I prepare for my runs has completely shifted. Physical therapy has shown me the importance of really warming up all of your muscles prior to a run to achieve optimal balance, good strength, and of course prevent injuries.
Through physical therapy I’ve learned how important it is to gain strength and stability in all of the muscles that aid in running: your glutes, hamstrings, quads, calves, abs, and lower back.
As I’ve progressed through therapy and started to run again, I’ve realized how much stronger my legs are and how much better my balance is – all thanks to the exercises I’ve been doing! I’ve never felt more confident as a runner.
When I started running several weeks ago my physical therapist gave me a set of exercises and stretches to do prior to each run. They have helped me so much that I couldn’t help but share them with you, too!
NOTE: these exercises were compiled by my physical therapist. I am by no means an expert. Rather, I am sharing what’s helped me as I prepare to run (smarter).
The Best Running Warm Up For Women
Warm Up Exercises:
- Resistance Band Side Steps – banded side steps target your glutes, thighs and hips. It helps to stabilize your hips and knees and prevent injury. HOW TO: put the resistance band around your ankles. Start with your ankles hip width apart. Take one step to the right and then allow your left foot to follow bringing you back to hip distance. Take 10 steps to your right and 10 to your left. Repeat 3 times.
- Squat Jumps – squat jumps target your hamstrings, glutes, quads, and calves and inadvertently target your abs and lower back. Adding a jump to your squats forces your body to learn to balance as well. HOW TO: stand with your feet hip distance part, lower into a squat and don’t let your knees go past your toes. Keeping your back straight the whole time, jump straight up and land softly on your feet. Landing softly is key as it engages your core and requires more muscles to engage.
- Lateral Jumps – lateral jumps target your quads, hamstrings and glutes. These jumps work on lateral stabilization and building strength. HOW TO: stand with your feet hip width apart, bend your knees and squat down. Then pushing through your heels jump sideways and land on your outside foot. Focus on landing sideways to engage your core and focus on balance.
- High Knees – high knees target hamstrings, your calves, quads, shins and abs. HOW TO: stand with your feet hip width apart. Lift up one knee to your chest and leave the other planted firm. Continue this movement alternating legs.
- Butt Kicks – butt kicks target your glutes and quads. HOW TO: start by standing with your feet hip width apart. Slowly bring your left heel to your butt by flexing your hamstring. Alternate and perform with your right heel. Alternate between legs.
Warm Up Stretches:
- Standing Quad Stretch – standing firm on your right leg, bend your left knee and grab your left ankle behind your back. Hold your ankle for 30 seconds. Repeat on the other leg.
- Standing Hamstring Stretch – standing hip width apart, slowly bend over toward the ground without bending your knees. Aim to reach the ground or put your hands on your elbows and let your body hang down.
These stretches are good for both warming up and cooling down. If you don’t have time to do the exercises above, I highly recommend at least doing the stretches.
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