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This is the perfect stretch to warm up for a walk or run

The runner's lunge earns it's name. It will warm up your entire lower body before you hit the pavement.
The runner's lunge works the quads, glutes and core while helping to loosen up all of the muscles needed to walk and run.
The runner's lunge works the quads, glutes and core while helping to loosen up all of the muscles needed to walk and run.TODAY Illustration / Stephanie Mansour

It’s rare to find a stretch that targets multiple muscles at once. The runner’s lunge is one of them, as it stretches the hips, groin and front of the legs. In just one simple move, you’ll be able to loosen up your entire lower body and move more easily.

However, to reap these benefits the runner’s lunge requires proper form. A lot of my clients make minor mistakes that devalue the move. That’s why I’ve outlined the common mistakes, modifications and step-by-step instructions to master the runner’s lunge.

What does the runner’s lunge do for the body?

Warming up the body and stretching your muscles before working out is essential in preventing injury. The runner’s lunge is a great dynamic stretch to incorporate into your warmup routine. The move works the quads, glutes and core while helping to loosen up all of the muscles needed to walk and run.

If you have low-back pain, this stretch is also helpful for loosening up the lower body to take pressure off of the back. Performing this stretch daily (in addition to Pilates core exercises!) is one of the ways I’ve helped stabilize and heal my low-back pain.

The common mistakes people make when doing the runner’s lunge

I often see people not stepping their feet far enough away from each other in the lunge position. This results in their front knee bending way forward of their front ankle, which can cause knee injury or discomfort.

These issues have to do with form, making them challenging to fix without a trainer by your side. However, I’ve outlined tips that will help you avoid the common mistakes:

  • Make sure to keep your front knee stable with your front foot flat on the ground and the knee directly over the ankle.
  • Don’t lean too far forward or backward; try to maintain your balance throughout by pulling your abs in.
  • Keep your back straight, maintaining strong posture.

How to do a modified runner’s lunge

This stretch does require a good amount of balance, so it can be challenging to remain stable. The modification to the runner’s lunge takes this challenge into account, making balancing and stabilization easier.

To modify, lower the knee of the back leg onto the mat to stabilize yourself. You’ll still be stretching the hips and legs, but you’ll have greater control over your body throughout the stretch.

How to perform the runner’s lunge correctly

When you’re ready to perform the traditional runner’s lunge, follow these step-by-step instructions and keep the common mistakes mentioned earlier in mind!

  1. Start in a standing position. Bend your knees and place your hands on the floor.
  2. Step your right foot back with your leg straight behind you.
  3. Place your left foot between your hands with your left knee bent over your left ankle.
  4. Look in front of you and straighten your back, maintaining good posture.
  5. Breathe out, letting your hips move towards the floor. Hold this position for a few breaths and then switch sides.

4 exercises that will help you perform the runner’s lunge

The runner’s lunge stretches a lot of the lower body, making it the perfect stretch to do before working out. If you’re not the most flexible, you may want some more stretches to pair with the runner’s lunge to help increase flexibility and warm up the muscles.

Quad stretch

Standing up straight, bend your right knee, bringing your right foot toward your butt. Grab the right foot or ankle with the right hand to pull the leg into a deeper stretch. Keep the right knee reaching in towards the left knee (not out to the side.) Hold for 30 seconds, then switch sides.

Butterfly pose

Sit on your butt on the mat. Bring the soles of the feet together, letting your knees fall out to the sides. Actively reach your legs down toward the ground. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds.

Figure four

Lie on your back with your feet flat on the ground in front of you. Cross your right foot over your left knee. Using your hands, pull your left leg in toward your chest until you feel the stretch in your hips. Hold for 30 seconds, then switch sides.

Child’s pose

Start on your hands and knees. Reach your butt back and rest it on your heels. Reach your chest toward the ground and straighten your arms out in front of you. Feel the stretch in your arms, back and hips. Hold for at least 30 seconds.