athlete stretching in the park

6 Warm-ups and Exercises for Runners to Prevent Muscle Cramps

It takes more than simply moving your feet quickly to be a great runner. Form, general fitness, and pacing, breathing, and the list of factors to successful running is just getting started. To help you with the non-running parts of the sport, we’ve assembled a list of six warm-ups and exercises that will help you be your best on race day.

  • Heel Drops – Nothing will zap your running ambitions quite like shin splints. To help avoid them, add heel drops into your routine. Stand on a stair facing up the staircase. Backup so only your toes are actually on the stair. Now, lift your left foot. Slowly drop your right heel, holding on to the stair with your toes, then return to the starting position. Switch feet and repeat.
  • Tip-Toes – Again, we want to avoid shin splints. First, stand straight up with your heels together and you’re your toes pointed out. Slowly, raise up onto your toes, then back down. Next, put your big toes together and point your heels out. Again, raise up onto your toes, then back down. Repeat each 10 times.
  • Jump Rope – We generally don’t think about our hamstrings until we’ve pulled or overworked them. Jump rope for 1-2 minutes before running. This will engage the hamstrings and get them primed for the miles to come.
  • Box Jump – Don’t just prep the hamstrings before a run, but really give them a workout for stronger, more responsive action. Stand in front of a box or platform approximately knee-high. Jump so that both feet land on the box or platform at the same time. Immediately jump back down to the starting point and repeat multiple times.
  • Y Squats – Before hitting the trails, wake up those glutes! Stand with your hands elevated like your prepping for the chorus of YMCA and your feet just slightly more than shoulder-width apart. Squat as low as you can while still keeping your back straight. Squeeze your glutes as you return to the upright position.
  • Butt Kicks – This is a good all-around prep. First, it requires you to walk, and what better way to transition from sitting to running than walking? When you take your backswing while walking, however, swing your foot back so that your heel kicks your butt. When this is too easy, jog while kicking your butt. And when this is too easy, jog and alternate five butt kicks and 5 high steps.

The basic rule to follow here is to make sure you warm up before running. Priming your muscles before asking them to power you through 5, 10, 15 or more miles will save you recovery time and help prevent injury. Also, to improve your running, spend a little time off the track and in the gym.



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