Dynamic warm-ups allow you to activate and warm up the muscles you will use for running, whether an easy run or an interval workout. They increase blood flow which in turn increases mobility. The common analogy of your muscles to a rubber band is accurate - a cold and brittle rubber band snaps whereas one that is warm and flexible can be used repetitively. Research has shown that static stretching of cold muscles is more likely to lead to injury than if the muscles are warm and more elastic.
Here are a few of my favorite dynamic stretches that mimic more functional motions, improve flexibility, and keep your muscles warm and elastic.
1. Squats: Feet hip width apart, toes angled out 10-15 degrees. Lower your body as far as you can, sink your hips back and bend your knees. Inhale down, exhale up. Add a small jump if you’re feeling it. Objective of squats is to activate your quad and glute muscles and strengthen your core.
2. March --> High Knees: Lift the opposite arm and leg. Knees drive straight up, elbows drive straight back. This motion builds endurance of hip flexors, muscles that lift knees and open up your running stride. Increase the pace of your arms and legs to transition into high knees, and just like that, you're running.
3. Reverse Lunges: Step one leg halfway back, allow your hips and knees to flex to lower your body. Let your front leg pull you forward and alternate. Inhale back, exhale as you stand up tall. Lunges engage your hamstrings, glutes, and calves, which are all needed to climb hills.
4. Butt Kicks: Kick your heels up toward your glutes as high as you can. Don’t be afraid of contact. Keep your torso tall, head steady. This running movement helps increase your cadence.