Tuesday, March 5, 2013
5 Stretches For Runners
“Stretching was a major part of my preparation.” - Edwin Moses Running makes your legs strong, toned and tight. Every step you take running down the road forces those quads, hamstrings, calves and hips to flex and extend over and over. Over time those muscles and tendons can develop imbalances, scar tissue, and tension, slowing you down and paving the way for injuries. There are two main types of stretches dynamic and static. Dynamic stretches are to warm you up before you run. Static stretches are done at the end of your run to help cool you down, bring your heart rate down, cut your risk of injury and lessen muscle soreness. Dynamic Leg Swings: From personal experience make sure there is no one close to you when performing this stretch. Hold on to a sturdy object, stand on one leg and swing the other forward and back. Swing the same leg 20 times before changing to the other. Each swing should build until your leg is close to the full range of motion. Walking lunges: This is one of my trainer’s favorites. He likes to walk the length of the gym doing this one. Take a large step forward with your right leg and bend the knee until your thigh is parallel to the floor and knee is aligned with your ankle. Push back upward, draw your left foot even with your right foot and step forward with the left. Keep the walking lunges fluid, and focus on proper form. Repeat 20 times, 10 per leg. Static In order to get the full benefit of static stretches it is recommended that you hold all stretches between 30 seconds and 2 minutes. Kneeling hip flexor and hamstring: You can really feel this one loosen your hamstring. From a kneeling position, plant the right foot on the ground in front of you, so the leg is bent 90 degrees, with the knee and ankle aligned. Keep your back straight and press forward into your right hip while keeping your left knee pressed into the ground, stretching your left hip and right hamstring. To increase the stretch to the left hip flexors, squeeze and contract the glute muscles of your left hip. Standing quad: Stand with legs together, bend your left leg, and bring your heel toward your butt and grasp your left foot with your left hand. Press your shoelaces into your hand, so that your leg does the stretching instead of pulling with your hand. Standing calf: Stand facing a wall with your hands on the wall at about chest level. Place the ball of your right foot up against the wall. With your heel touching the floor, gently lean into the wall until you feel a stretch in your calf while keeping your leg straight. What stretches do you commonly use before and after a run?