You just got a new pair of running shoes, you’ve made a Grammy-worthy playlist, and now you’re ready to pound the pavement. But before you jump into that 30-minute run, you’ve got to make sure your muscles and joints are warmed up and ready for the impact in order to prevent injury and to have an efficient run. You may think that statically stretching your hamstrings and quadriceps will do the job, but according to Vinh Pham, DPT, founder of Myodetox and Asystem’s director of recovery, it’s not the best way to warm up.
“I would say that dynamic stretches are best,” Pham told POPSUGAR, because they allow you to move your joints and muscles through a full range of motion. He also prefers dynamically stretching before runs because research has shown that static stretching can decrease your strength and power output, negatively impacting your performance. If you do want to statically stretch before a run, Pham recommends doing it 30 minutes to an hour before your run to prevent a decrease in your muscular strength and power.
You may think you only need to stretch your legs, but Pham explained it’s important to also stretch your upper body — specifically the chest, shoulders, and thoracic spine (located in your upper back/abdomen region) – because it will help you swing your arms properly, which can prevent your back, hips, and legs from overworking. Additionally, research has found that when you swing your arms, you can save three to 13 percent of energy.
Moral of the story: properly warming up before you run is important because it will prevent injury and will make you a more efficient runner! There are a variety of dynamic exercises you can do to warm up, and Pham provided us with four of his favorites that will get your muscles and joints ready to work. Check them out ahead.