As many runners know, stretching is an essential part of warming up; however, it is often ignored. No matter even if it is a short jog, it is important for your muscles to conduct the right types of stretches and perform them properly.
Whether you are new to running or have been logging miles for years, it is never too late to learn how to correctly stretch or brush up on the techniques.
Importance of Pre-Run Stretching
Throughout our day-to-day lives, we are often sitting for long periods of time. This causes our muscles to shorten, but when running these muscles are stretched. Going from the sudden shift from sitting to running can leave the muscles more prone to injury. Allowing time to stretch and warm-up can allow our muscles to resist the stress that comes with running.
Creating a pre-run warm-up that mimics the actions you’ll be doing during your workout is ideal. This would entail dynamic stretching.
Incorporating Dynamic Stretches
Static stretches are often the most recognized, as these are positions that are slightly uncomfortable and are held for 20 to 30 seconds. Examples include bending down to touch your toes or sitting down and bringing the soles of your feet together. While static stretches are beneficial, when it comes to performing activities like running, dynamic stretches are the way to go. Dynamic stretching refers to active, repetitive movements that are mild and can begin small and gradually increase in size. Along with stretching muscles and tissues, this type of active movement prepares the muscles for running by warming them up and allowing the blood flow to those areas to be optimized.
Recommended Dynamic Stretches
These are four great dynamic stretches that can be included in your pre-run warm-up. It is important that when applicable, stretch each side of the body equally. This is key to avoiding both overuse and acute injuries.
1. Side lunge
2. Bent-knee forward swing
3. Arm swings
4. Straight-leg lateral swing
5. High Knees