The Best Stretches You Can Do Before Running

Although you might be eager to start running as soon as you get to the gym, you should really begin your workout with a series of warm-up stretches. That's because dynamic, or active, stretching can help properly prepare your muscles for physical activity. According to experts at Insider, stretching can help pump blood to your muscles, increasing your mobility and reducing your risk of injury. Research has shown that dynamic stretching can also reduce muscle stiffness and improve the range of motion in your legs.

John Gallucci Jr., a physical therapist and CEO of JAG-ONE Physical Therapy in New Jersey, told Insider that muscles are similar to rubber bands. When rubber bands are warm, they're far more pliable than if they were chilled in a freezer and stretched, making them more likely to snap. Dynamic stretches decrease the likelihood of muscle tears, especially in the hamstrings — a common muscle injury for runners.

How to do dynamic stretches

Fortunately, there are plenty of dynamic stretches you can perform before a run. For instance, you can help warm up your muscles by engaging in a lunge with a side bend. According to Runner's World, you can do this by standing with your feet hip-width apart and lunging forward with your left foot, bend your left knee at a 90-degree angle. Your right knee should also be slightly bent.

After you're in this position, you can take your right arm and reach it over your head, bending your torso to the left. Your left arm can rest on your left knee as you do this. Tony Gentilcore, a certified strength and conditioning specialist and owner of CORE in Boston, told Runner's World single leg variation warm-ups are a great way to protect and activate muscles runners don't often train. 

Now you're ready to hit the road!