Most current medical advice is that the best warm-up for a run is a walk. However, leading running coach Nick Anderson advises his clients to add in a little something else. The first thing runners should do, no matter the distance, is get the body warmed up with some simple motion. People should start off at a walk and build to a jogging pace. After that, Anderson advises his clients to add some dynamic stretches.

Dynamic stretching is especially beneficial before a long run. Leading trainers even advise their clients that dynamic stretching can constitute a complete workout in its own right. In a dynamic stretch, a joint will go through a full range of motion. Dynamic stretching does not mean bouncing. Movements should be smooth and controlled. The goal is to improve flexibility and remove short-term tightness. This can prevent common injuries.

Common dynamic stretches Anderson asks clients to do include hamstring sweeps, side to side leg swings, forward and back leg swings and glute and piriformis activation. Hamstring sweeps help loosen the hamstring group. Running tones the quads, working that front part of the leg extensively. It’s important to balance this action out by working the hamstring group, also. A lack of balance can lead to injury.

Side to side leg swings work the abductor and adductor muscles. These help strengthen the core, in addition to warming up the adductor and abductor muscles. Doing this type of dynamic stretch helps to improve overall range of motion. Leg swings from front to back work the hamstring and hip flexor. Runners, especially distance runners, tend to have lots of tightness in the hips. It’s important to work to improve flexibility in that region. Again, it’s important to keep the hamstrings loose and flexible before challenging them with a long run.

Glute and piriformis activation involves putting an ankle over the opposite knee, while standing. This provides a great release for the hips, glutes and even the lower back. For runners with balance challenges, it’s okay to hold onto something while doing this stretch. Focusing on one focal point in the middle distance can also be helpful when doing this stretch. Runners should also do any pre-running stretches that have been prescribed by their physiotherapists.