In school, you probably learned to get into a stretch and hold it, feeling the relief and the pain in the muscle. That's what's known as a static stretch, but it turns out that it's not really the best option, particularly before a run. Dynamic stretches, performed while moving and held for less time than a static stretch, prepare your body by increasing your heart rate, opening joints, actively stretching muscles and reinforcing good posture.
Hip circles are an effective dynamic stretch for your hips. Place your hands on your hips with your feet shoulder-width apart and toes pointed forward. Make circles with your hips in a clockwise direction. Repeat the circles in a counter clockwise direction. Complete 10 reps in each direction with a full range of motion.
Quads pulls are a common, effective dynamic stretch for your quads. Stand straight with your feet shoulder-width apart and toes pointed forward. Lift one leg up towards your glutes. As you lift your leg, reach back and grab your ankle with your opposite hand. Pull your ankle towards your glutes until you feel a stretch in your quad, and hold this position for two seconds. Slowly lower your leg, and repeat this stretch with your opposite leg and opposite hand. Keep your torso straight while performing this stretch. Complete 10 to15 reps on each leg.
The key to making this stretch dynamic is to hold the pose only briefly, rather than for 15 to 30 seconds.
Leg swings are a bit more advanced than the previous two stretches. They target your hamstrings, glutes and quads. First, stand parallel to a hand rail with your feet shoulder-width apart and your toes pointed forward. Place your outside hand on your outside hip, and grab the hand rail with your inside hand. With a slight knee bend, swing your inside leg forward until you feel a stretch in your hamstring. As your leg comes down, swing it backward and attempt to kick yourself in the glutes until you feel a stretch in your quad. Gradually increase your range of motion with each rep. Perform 10 to 15 reps on each leg.
Power skips target your arms, shoulders, core, hips, glutes, quads, hamstrings and calves. Using a skipping motion, swing one arm straight up and raise your opposite knee as high as possible, essentially doing a one-legged jump. As your arm and knee come down, repeat the motion with the opposite arm and opposite knee. Focus on height instead of distance. Complete 20 to 30 reps.