8 Running Stretches That You Can Use Before 5K to Marathon Races

Training for a long-distance run? Optimize your performance with these useful pre-workout moves and stretches, courtesy of physical therapist Daniel Giordano, DPT, PT, CSCS of Bespoke Treatments.

In our latest episode of “The Fix,” Giordano breaks down five incredibly helpful moves to help you torch your next race PR. Read the overview below, and then check out the video for an in-depth run-through of each move.

Marathon/Race Warmup

A quick warmup goes a long way. “Today, we're going to take you through a marathon warmup, so you optimize your performance and crush your next marathon,” says Giordano. “The most important thing that we're going to do is increase your body temperature, increase your blood flow so that your muscles start working properly, lubricating our lungs, and getting us right for our marathon.” While Giordano specifies this series can be used for the marathon, you can get ready for a race at any distance using these stretches, from 5Ks all the way to the marathon.

Light Jog in Place

Jog in place for two to five minutes. “If there's more blood, that means there's more oxygen to your muscles, which means your muscles are going to contract and relax, better prepping you for that run,” says Giordano. This is purely to increase your heart rate.

High Hip Pull

This is the first active stretch of the routine, which really helps to get you revved up for your run. Pull one knee into your chest and raise up onto your toes on the opposite foot. Do about five to eight reps or 30 seconds on each side.

Cradle Pull

This move is also called a glute pull. Grab one ankle with your opposite hand, then put your other hand on your knee and pull up to the chest and then back down. (It’s almost like a standing figure-four position.) This move activates the whole back side of the glutes and the hips.

“And as we know, those glutes and hips are extremely important for running because that's where your peak load is coming through,” says Giordano. Do this for five to eight reps or 30 seconds on each side.

Hamstring Scoop

Standing up, straighten out one leg, and bend the other knee. Hinge your hips then scoop up to get a stretch through the posterior chain on the straight leg side. This actively stretches the hamstring, all the way down to the calf muscle, getting you ready for your distance run.

Quad Pull

This move focuses on the anterior aspects of your legs (your quads are located on the anterior or front side of your body), preparing you for any downhill segments of your race, in particular. Grab your ankle, lift it up, and pull it back an inch, hold it quickly and then put your foot down and switch sides. Do this for five to eight reps or 30 seconds on each side.

Single-Leg Deadlift with a Knee Drive

After the active stretching component of this warm up, it’s on to some exercises to get those muscles firing a little better. Bend slightly at the knee and reach down with one hand and then drive your knee up to help your legs, hips, and single leg stability be ready for race time.

Pogo Jumps

These jumps help get your calves and toes activated. Keep your knees straight and initiate from the ankle. Don’t jump too high and waste your energy.

High Knees

“So the final step of our marathon or distance running warmup is going to be just to get you flowing and get you active again,” says Giordano. Drive your knees and pump your arms for 30 seconds to a minute without fatiguing yourself.

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