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Quick and Easy Warm-Up Wisdom from a Physical Therapist

By Erin Hansen, PT, DPT | St. Luke’s Physical Therapy

Picture this: You're raring to go, ready to conquer the world with your run. But, you realize you haven’t warmed up yet. Do you:

  1. Postpone your workout a few minutes to warm-up.

  2. Dive right into the run!

As a physical therapist and runner myself, I’m here to tell you: Halt those eager feet and don’t skip your warm-up! It might feel like an annoying time-waster, but trust me, it's your ticket to injury-free, top-notch running. By getting your heart pumping, muscles limber and blood flowing, you're setting the stage for a safer and more enjoyable run.

So, here’s some of my favorite warm-up wisdom.



Just jog it to get ready for long runs Let’s say you're ready to hit the road for your weekly long run. Before you fire up your Garmin, take five minutes to shake out those legs with a nice, easy jog. Stay at a pace where chatting with a friend wouldn't leave you breathless. This gets your muscles ready, giving them a heads-up that action is on the horizon.


Master pick-ups to crush a speed work run or race When you're gearing up for speed or a race-day showdown, your warm-up needs a bit more pizzazz. Here’s how to master the pick-up method:

  1. Start with a laid-back 2-minute jog.

  2. Then, gradually increase your speed over the next 100 yards until your last few strides are top speed. This is called a pick-up, or a speed-up. Do this 3-4 times, jogging back to your starting point.

  3. Wrap it up with another minute of easy jogging.


Add dynamic stretches to be extra ready If you’ve got a few more minutes, level up your warm-up game with a few dynamic stretches. Think leg swings, high knees, butt kicks and some sideway shuffle action. This will help prepare your muscles for what’s ahead. Listen to your body! As you conquer new speeds and distances, pay attention to your aches and pains. If something doesn't feel right, there is no harm in easing up! Dial down the mileage or take a breather to let your body heal. If aches stick around longer than a week, St. Luke’s team of expert physical therapists is ready to help! We even offer running evaluations.

To schedule an appointment, call 218.249.6040 or request an appointment online.

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