A quick dynamic warm-up before your run can improve your running performance and help avoid injury. It doesn't have to take a lot of time, so if you've been walking to warm up, or worse, skipping it all together, take a few minutes to prep your body for the workout to come.
Studies now show that static stretching (The kind where you hold the stretch for 20 to 30 seconds) can actually decrease performance and may even cause injury when done before a workout. Save the static hold stretching for after your workouts. They are important too, they are just more effective when done at the end.
Start with foam rolling, then move into this dynamic warm-up. If you think you don't have time to warm-up, I'd recommend cutting your runtime short by five minutes to make the time. You won't lose any running fitness and you have a lot to gain in balance, mobility and injury prevention. This warm-up increases blood flow, improves hip mobility, core stability and balance. Trust me, it's important.
A dynamic stretch moves the joint through the full range of motion. These should be fluid continuous movements. Don't rush through the movements either, they should be controlled.
LATERAL LEG SWINGS
Balance on one leg with your knee slightly bent. With a straight leg swing your leg out to the right then cross over the front leg to the left. Repeat 10 times on each leg. If you have to hold on to a chair or touch your foot down to maintain balance it is ok at first, but work on building balance over time. Having a strong core and good balance will benefit your running form and efficiency.
FORWARD/BACK LEG SWINGS
Standing on one leg with your knee slightly bent swing your straight leg out in front, then behind. You can hold onto a chair if you need to for balance, but work to build balance over time. Repeat 10 times on each leg.
WALKING LUNGES W/TWIST
With your hands on your hip step one leg forward into a lunge so your forward leg is at a 90-degree angle. While in the low position twist your torso towards your forward leg, pause for 1-3 seconds. Pushing through the heel of your forward leg, return to standing and repeat on opposite leg. Perform 8-10 reps on each leg.
WALKING HIP ROTATION STRETCH
Standing on one leg, bend your knee to 90 degrees and lift your thigh up until it is parallel to the ground. Rotate your hip out to the side then return to starting position. Repeat 10 times on each side.
WALKING QUAD STRETCH
Standing on one leg pull your heel back until it touches your butt to stretch the quad muscles in your thigh. Keep your knees together. Hold for 1-3 seconds, lower your leg and repeat on the other side while walking forward in a fluid motion. You could progress this exercise by performing butt kicks, quickly bringing your heel to your butt alternating between right and left.
WALKING HAMSTRING STRETCH
Standing on one leg, pull up the opposite leg and hug to your chest to stretch your hamstring muscles in the back of your leg. Hold the position for 1-3 seconds, lower your leg to step forward and repeat on the other side. Walk forward bringing each leg to chest 10 times. You could progress this exercise by performing high knees, quickly bringing your knees up alternating between right and left.
Pinky swear you'll make the time for these quick dynamic stretches before your next run? Got it? Good. Let me know how it goes before your next run.