Stretching for Runners
Stretching before your workout will help you avoid injury when running on or off the treadmill. These exercises are designed to work on the major muscles involved in running.
Here are a few hints that will make stretching before running more effective:
- Avoid stretching cold muscles. When muscles are cold, it’s easier to tear the muscle fibers.
- Walk or jog 5 minutes to get blood to the area, wear sweat pants or tights and try to stretch where it’s warm.
- Always stretch to the point of discomfort, not pain.
- Breathe comfortably and let the muscle group relax. As it relaxes, it will stretch.
- Hold each stretch for 30 to 45 seconds.
- Don’t overdo it. Remember, it is supposed to help you run better not be a challenge in and of itself.
This stretch will help to keep your adductors in shape.
Set your feet parallel and spread them as far apart as possible. Fold your arms at the elbows, and bend forward while trying to reach the ground with your folded arms. Make sure you don’t pressure your lower back.
Bent Over Hang
To avoid shortening both your stride, the Bent Over Hang stretches your hamstrings – the most important muscle group involved in running.
This stretch will also loosen your lower back muscles. To perform this stretch, bend over at the waist and hang your fingers toward your toes, relaxing your neck muscles and letting your head hang.
This stretch has a two goals. It will loosen both your hip flexors and your groin muscles – muscle groups that are vital to fast running as well as hills or a high incline setting on the treadmill.
Hip flexors are stretched by keeping the toe of the trailing leg pointed straight down as you drop your knee to the ground with your hands next to your forward foot. Groin muscles are stretched by turning your foot in so that the inside edge is flat against the ground.
Loosening your quadriceps will increase your back kick and lengthen your stride. By stretching the quads, you help the hamstrings pick up your heels as you toe off.
Balance on one foot or hold onto a nearby object and keep your knee pointed down with your torso perpendicular to the ground. By keeping your grip at the toes, you will also stretch your shin muscles.
Loose calf muscles will help prevent Achilles tendonitis and take some of the burden away from your shins as you bring your trailing leg forward when running.
Always check with your doctor before beginning a new exercise program or changing your exercise routine significantly. This is especially important if you have been sedentary for a long time, are overweight, have a high risk of coronary heart disease or some other chronic health problem.