I tried this personal trainer's three-move running warm-up, and my legs have never felt better

Prime your muscles and prevent injuries with this 10-minute pre-run stretching routine

woman runing
(Image credit: Future)

Warming up is arguably the most important pre-run ritual there is (yes, even more important than popping on your lucky socks). It'll help prevent injuries and prepare your muscles for what's to come, making each mile feel more enjoyable.

Yet, for one reason or another, I often skip this vital step, lacing up my favorite running shoes for women and heading out without any pre-workout movement. 

Then I found fitness coach Lauren Pak's efficient warm up routine. It's just three moves (the rocking ankle mobilization, reverse lunge into cross-body reach and hamstring scoop) and only takes a couple of minutes, so there's no excuse. 

To test its effectiveness, I decided to try it before my easy-paced seven kilometer lunchbreak route. So, I put on my shoes and set about stretching. You can watch the routine below and save it for your next run, or read on to find out my verdict. 

Watch Lauren Pak's running warm-up video


♬ original sound - Jason and Lauren

I know you should never skip a warm-up (I learned this the hard way), but my pre-run routine tends to be a bit inconsistent. Some dead bugs here, a lunge there; I've hunted for a reliable warm-up for a while, but never found one that quite hits the spot. 

Whether they're too long or I'm too eager to get going, who knows. But this routine from Pak seems perfect, containing a quick three moves to target the feet, ankles, calves, core, hip flexors, quads, and posterior chain.

For all three movements, Pak recommends doing between four and eight repetitions on both sides of your body. I opted for the maximum of eight, yet it was still only 10 minutes before I felt warm and ready to enjoy my run.

If I don't warm up properly I feel stiff in my joints and calves, and it takes about two slow kilometers for my body to ease into the run. However, after following Pak's video my whole body felt comfortable from the start, sailing through all seven kilometers. 

From my core to my ankles, my body felt fully warmed up, validating the extra few minutes I spent on the routine before setting off. I particularly liked its full-body approach, with the lunges readying my legs and the cross-body reaches activating my core. 

How should you warm-up before a run?

Before running you should always perform a series of dynamic stretches—stretches that involve moving your limbs through a full range of motion in a controlled manner. This is different to static stretching, which sees you you hold a position for a prolonged period.  

Dynamic stretching can improve flexibility, mobility and coordination, while also offering short-term benefits such as raising your body temperature and increasing blood flow to your muscles. This makes it a great way to warm-up before your run. 

Static stretching is better for helping your muscles relax, so keep these for after your run (because none of us skip cool-downs, right?). And it can help soothe aching muscles the next day to give yourself a quick massage. 

Spending a few minutes with one of the best foam rollers can make a big difference, helping promote oxygenated blood into the area to aid your recovery and, if we're honest, it can feel quite nice, too. 

Lois Mackenzie
Fitness Writer

Lois Mackenzie is a Fitness Writer for Fit&Well and its sister site Coach, covering strength training workouts with weights, accessible ways to stay active at home, and training routines for runners. She joined the team from Newsquest Media Group, where she was a senior sports, trends, and lifestyle reporter. She is a dedicated runner, having just completed her first marathon, and an advocate for spending time outdoors, whether on a walk, taking a long run, or swimming in the sea. 

Lois holds a Master's degree in Digital Journalism, and has written for Good Health, Wellbeing & The Great Outdoors, Metro.co.uk, and Newsquest Media Group, where her reporting was published in over 200 local newspapers.