It’s easy to overlook the importance of a pre-run warm-up, especially when the excitement of hitting the trails is at hand. But skipping a warm-up can put you and your muscles at risk of a serious injury resulting in a dreadful setback. So why is a pre-run warm-up so important? First, it dilates your blood vessels, ensuring that your muscles are well supplied with oxygen. It also raises your muscles temperature for optimal flexibility and efficiency. This is how we avoid injury, by allowing our muscles to loosen up to protect them against a pull or a tear. Warming up also raises the heart rate, which helps minimize stress on your heart when you start your run. Although these four warm-up exercises are great for runners, they can also be used as a warm-up for sprints as well as leg workouts. 

1. Quad Stretch

While standing erect, bend one leg brining your heel towards your glutes. Keep your knee pointed downward toward the ground, holding the stretch for 10-15 seconds. 

2. High Knees

Explode off the ball of your left foot, driving your knee up in front toward your chest. Follow immediately by driving your right knee toward your chest. Continue alternating knees. 

3. Leg Swings

Stand tall with hands at sides. Swing your right leg forward and back; do 10 reps, then switch legs and repeat. Next, swing your right leg out to the side and back to center; do 10 reps, then switch legs and repeat. 

4. Butt Kicks

Keeping your torso upright, begin jogging slowly. As you jog, bend your right knee and drive your foot toward your glutes. Aim for your right heel to make contact with your glutes. Then as  you extend your right leg and shift your weight onto it, bend your left knee and drive your foot toward your glutes, aiming for your heel to make contact with it, alternating legs.