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How to stretch properly before a run

Harper's Bazaar (UK) logo Harper's Bazaar (UK) 23/01/2019 The Editors

a woman in a forest: Wondering how to stretch before a run to avoid injury and power up your miles? Look no further, as expert and sub three-hour marathoner shares her favourite  pre-run moves © Yu Tsai for Harper's Bazaar Wondering how to stretch before a run to avoid injury and power up your miles? Look no further, as expert and sub three-hour marathoner shares her favourite pre-run moves First, you learnt how to prevent injury running, next up, you're Googling: 'How to stretch before a run'.

Runners will know that the correct term is actually activation (read our guide to glute activation), but why exactly is stretching out, or activating your muscles pre-mileage, important?

Well, first, warming up has been found to help prevent injury, as you prepare your muscles in advance for the work you're about to put them through, and secondly, studies in the journal Sports Medicine have concluded that warming up is important for improving flexibility and raising body temperature which, in turn, improve overall running performance.

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In other words, get into the habit of stretching before you set off and bettering your running will become as routine as your morning coffee or 4pm snack - particularly important if you're aiming to smash your first 5 km training plan.

Over to coach Becs Gentry shares for her guide on how to stretch before a run.

How to stretch before a run: 5 examples

Do each for 30 seconds and increase your energy return as you progress.

1. Leg swings

a. Make sure one foot is planted firmly on the ground.

b. Now, put the opposite hand on your hip. Swing your foot back and forwards, making sure to engage your core and fire up your glutes.

Strides © Getty Strides

2. Strides

a. Choose a short, straight path.

b. Now, making your stride as big as you can, practice five or so wide legged strides in each direction. Turn around and repeat.

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3. High knees

a. Stand in one spot and hold your palms at your waist, facing the floor.

b. Now, keeping your arms tight and alternating legs, bring your knees as close to your belly button as possible, tapping your palm lightly with each move.

Athlete training © Getty Athlete training

4. Soft skips

a. Again, choose a short, straight path.

b. Stride three times and on the fourth stride, bring your leg up into a high knee jump. Return to floor and repeat.

5. Instant go skips

a. Start hopping on one leg and balancing on one foot.

b. Now, bring the other leg out in front of you. Kick the heel of your foot forwards and then sweep your leg back in a pulling motion. Repeat on the opposite side.

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