3D Lunge Warm-Up for Running

Although running is a linear motion, moving straight forwards, the component movements at each joint happen in all three planes of motion (sagittal, frontal and transverse planes). Thus it’s really important that as we warm-up, we consider all three planes of motion to get the body fully ready for our run session ahead.

The dynamic lunge is a great exercise to use in a warm-up, especially when three dimensional variations are performed to target each of the cardinal planes of motion.

Coach Jay Johnson shares this great video below, demonstrating a simple series of lunges to prepare you for your running workout. Your knees and hips in particular will benefit greatly from this series of lunges.

About The Author 

James has an academic background in Sport Rehabilitation and a special interest in Applied Biomechanics. He currently coaches a large number of Runners and Triathletes across all levels of ability and performance. He's grown a strong reputation for enabling athletes to improve their running performance and overcome running injuries through improving their Running Technique and developing Running Specific Strength.



  • Hi. could the front lunge with twist be an issue with clients with ACL injury history? It looks like it puts a torsional stress on the knee.

    • Hey Malcolm, great question!

      I have a personal interest in ACL injuries, having undergone an ACL reconstruction myself in 2005, also working in a clinic specialising in post-op ACL rehab for a number of years before starting Kinetic Revolution.

      The lunge with a twist as shown in the video (twist to the same side as the forward leg) is a good progression used in post-op ACL rehab to begin loading the knee in the transverse and frontal planes in a relatively controlled environment, when the knee is ready. Probably starting around 8-12 weeks post-op.

      In terms of stresses on the knee of the forward leg, the key is direction of the twist…

      Twisting to face the same side as the forward leg:
      The knee is driven into a varus position, and the foot driven top-down into supination.
      These combined positions movements won’t add stress to the ACL.

      Twisting to face the opposite side to the forward leg:
      The knee is driven into a valgus position, and the foot driven into pronation.
      These are the positions and motions we know to add stress to the ACL.

      Of course, these are the expected chain reactions. Some athletes with poor neuromuscular control will be unable to control this lunge movement, and will display altered biomechanics such as knee valgus where we’d expect varus. In this case, I’d suggest regressing the exercise to focus on gaining control of a simple split squat, then a lunge, then etc…

  • Nice video James but a couple of extra points would make them even better

    – for the arm rotational lunge – need to focus on maintaining the head looking straight ahead – if the head turns there is normally a lack of cervival/thoracic mobility which will affect movement in the transverse plane when we run since we cant afford to turn our heads frequently when we run
    – the the sagital lunge Jay recommends the kne should stay over the heel and not go forward yet in the frontal plane lunge the knee goes forward – as far more dorsiflexion occurs when we run than shown in the first lunge the knee should be allowed to travel forward

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