• Tom Toth

The best pre-running stretches

If you run regularly, whether outside or on a treadmill, a warm-up is critical in preventing injury and overload

Nearly 60 million people in North America run at least occasionally for fitness or fun. Unfortunately most of them have to stop at some point because of sudden or nagging injuries. There has been a lot written on how stretching before a run helps prevent these injuries, but is that actually true? The sad fact is that most stretching people do isn't particularly effective. Instead of holding long stretches for the hams and quads, for example, you should be focusing on mobilizing and warming up your leg muscles. Here's a good routine for that:

1. Body-weight squats: squat down as far as you comfortably can slowly, and come back up to starting position. Repeat for 20 reps

2. Standing on one leg, perform six slow hip circles in both directions per leg

3. Standing back on both legs, touch the ground in front of you. Bend the knees if necessary, to avoid straining the back. Then reach up to the sky, bring the arms slightly behind your head.

4. Step back into a deep lunge while lifting the arm on the same side as the back leg up into the air and towards the midline. Hold for 3 seconds, the return to standing position and repeat with the other leg. Keep your weight on the front leg.

5. Hold your hands out in front of you at hip height. Now run in place while trying to reach your hands with your knees. This exercises warms up the hip flexors, which are often tight.

If you still want to do some static stretching, the end of your run is a good place for it. Flushing out the muscles with some lengthening can be beneficial for recovery, and it just plain feels good! If you have any questions about the warmup, drop me a line at 416-528-5463 or

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