Running Warm-Up: 5 Minute Warm-Up

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Warming up for running is a task that is simply overlooked by most runners. A running warm-up should be simple and concise. It should be able to be done anywhere without the use of any special equipment. I have been coaching and working with runners in my office for the last decade and over the years, I have adapted and changed our warm-up many times. But, after some trial and error, I have come up with our current warm-up which I’ll happily share with you below.


Lunges are great at opening up the hips and getting some of the muscles firing that you will be about to use when you start running. I recommend lunging in different vectors as the below video shows and building up in repetitions to about 10 per direction. If you have knee issues, lunges may not be the best option for you.

Leg Swings

Leg swings are another great way to get the body moving and get some of your muscles firing. With leg swings, I usually don’t even count but do somewhere between 7-15 repetitions or whatever feels comfortable.

Dynamic Running Drills

I also like to do a little bit of dynamic drills so that when I start running, I feel good. The video below shows a series of drills that you can do anywhere that will get you feeling good before you run. These drills would also be appropriate to do as part of a cooldown after running.

Extra Credit: Foam Rolling

If you want extra credit, you can also do a little bit of foam rolling. Foam rolling is great at increasing blood flow to muscles so when we talk about warming up, it’s not a bad idea especially if you have a little knick or a knack. I would caution you to go on the lighter end before you run when it comes to foam rolling.

There are many other drills you can do but for most runners, the above running warm-up will be more than sufficient. In total, the warm-up should take you less than 5 minutes. If you are doing a hard workout, I recommend doing speed drills to wake up your central nervous system (CNS). I will cover a good CNS warm-up in a future blog.

Brian Damhoff DC MS
Owner, Elite Performance Institute, Naperville, IL | Assistant Track and Field Coach Naperville Central High School | Team Chiropractor Northern Illinois University Track and Field/Cross Country | Doctorate of Chiropractic | Masters in Sports Rehabilitation

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