The Best Stretches Before Running

The Best Stretches Before Running

That last thing you want during a run is an injury or a locked muscle. Often times people are overdoing it and overstretching the muscles, or they are doing the wrong stretches that are not prepping the right parts. In either scenario, you are drastically increasing your chances for injury and wasting time. In this post we are getting into the Best Stretches Before Running. I have been a runner for over twenty years, and in this time, I can’t tell you how many people I’ve seen doing the pre-run stretch routine wrong. It reminds me of those hilarious gym videos of people using the workout machines in the most hilarious ways. Either they are using some weird routine or stretch they must have gotten off of some goofball on YouTube, or they are having what looks to be completely unnecessary full yoga sessions on the ground that take forever. WE’RE JUST GOING FOR A RUN PEOPLE…just keep it simple! Remember the key to your pre-run stretch is dynamic stretching. You want to fire up those muscles a bit and get some circulation going so that everything is ready to go. You do NOT want to overstretch those muscles, nor do you want to tire them out with some crazy routine or intense movements. The goal is simply to warm them up and get the blood flowing. So here are the Best Stretches Before Running that you want to be doing to save time and be sure you are off to a great start.

Forward Leg Swings

To do Forward Leg Swings, lean or grab onto a sturdy  object or wall. Standing on one leg, swing your other leg in front of you up to about chest height and then swing down behind you as far as your body naturally allows. Keep on kicking back-and-forth 20 times and turn to the other side and to the same thing for the other leg. This movement will stretch your hip muscles and joints. This is going to be important in preventing injuries and reduce any pain in the hip area along with any strenuous running you may be planning. If your balance is good enough, try doing without leaning on anything.

Lateral Leg Swings

For Lateral Leg Swings, lean or grab onto a sturdy wall forward facing. Standing on one leg, swing our other leg from side-to-side being sure not to force the leg too high, and then letting it naturally stop once it gets as high as it can go. Keep swinging side-to-side 20 times and switch to the other leg. This motion will extend the range of motion to your hips and prep the whole chain of muscles, tendons, and joints for the physical action your body is going to demand. If your balance is good enough, try doing it without leaning on anything.

Standing Quad

Your quad muscles are huge, and the last thing you want is a torn or injured quad. This is one of the best quad stretches that allows you to have the most control on your stretch. While standing, raise one foot back and behind your buttocks and grab your foot holding it in place. If needed, hold on to a sturdy surface or wall for balance. Now align your thigh almost parallel with the other thigh careful not to touch one another. If you pull your foot up towards your butt more you can create a little for more stretch if desired. Hold for 10 seconds and then turn and repeat with the other leg. If your balance is good enough, try doing without leaning on anything.

Standing Calf

Your calf muscles are prone to locking up, and when they do, it can take you out of the game for days or more. The Standing Calf stretch will prevent injury and allow you to really work those powerful calf muscles that are going to make you jump higher and run faster. Stand facing the wall and put your hands out at about chest height. Put the ball of your foot up against the wall with the heel touching the floor. With your leg straight, lean into the wall until you feel the stretch in your calf muscle. Hold this for a half a minute and then repeat with the other foot.

That’s it!!!

Now you can go run. You didn’t need to make a scene or waste a ton of time giving your entire body a full stretch workout it didn’t need. You have now just hit every necessary point of your body needed to be fired up and loosened for the run. Go…run now worry free and ready to take yourself to the limit. After this run, however, there are some crucial stretches you will need to do. In my next post, Best Post Run Stretches, I will reveal the top stretches you must perform after the run in order to prevent potential issues and get those knots out of those muscles so that you are ready for the next run! For more tips, check out my Skinny Nut page about staying in shape and burning fat.



  1. Hi, thanks for your article. I’ve experienced a locked muscle and I do not recommend it to anyone! I definitely agree that doing the appropriate stretches first is smart before a run. The videos you’ve included are a nice reminder to show the appropriate techniques.

    • Glad you like the videos. I’m a visual person myself, so videos help me to see the right way to do stuff. I hate locked muscles which is why I wanted to do my next few articles on proper stretching for the run and eventually other workouts. Cheers!

  2. Although not a runner, I do actively mountain bike. I know the importance of stretching before going for a ride. There have been a few times where I have not done a proper stretch, and paid for it with cramped muscles and a bad ride. I like the video reference as it always easier to see how to do these stretches rather than a description. Well done!

    • I went to Colorado and did some serious mountain biking once. It was an awesome scenic workout and I loved every minute of it. I do enjoy riding my bike every now and then in the States, but prefer the run. From my experience biking I agree that stretching is serious. You really work those quads and hamstrings. These stretches in this post will help protect you from a good ride on a bike as well. I would however add in some arms stretches depending on your ride! Cheers!!!

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