If you are a runner, do you make time for a few stretches? If you do not stretch, it might be because you don’t have enough time or you don’t see the value in stretching. But stretching is important for runners for several reasons.
When you run, you place a lot of impact on your muscles and entire body. Runners are prone to various injuries and aches and pains. Stretching is beneficial for a variety of reasons, including the following:
Stretching before you run gets your muscles warm and loosens up your joints, which decreases your risk of injury.
Stretching is essential to keep your muscles flexible, which helps us maintain our full range of motion.
Running puts a lot of stress on several muscles in your body. Stretching after a run helps lengthen your tightened muscles.
If you warm-up and stretch before a run, your muscles may handle the exertion better, which helps improve performance.
According to the American Council on Exercise, save static stretching for after your workout. Static stretching involves holding the stretch. If you do want to stretch before your run, it’s a good idea to warm-up for about five to ten minutes by walking. A light warm-up gets the blood circulating.
Below are stretches every runner should do.
The hamstrings are the back part of your upper leg, and they are often tight in runners. Tight hamstrings can lead to lower back pain.
To perform a hamstring stretch:
The calf muscles are in the back of your lower leg. If your calf muscles are tight, it can alter your running form. Stretching the calf muscles can help decrease cramping and injuries.
To do a calf stretch:
Your glutes are the muscles in your buttocks, and they play a big role in running. Stretching your glutes can prevent soreness after a run.
To perform a gluteal stretch:
You might not think your lower back is involved in running, but it is. Your lower back absorbs some of the force of running and is a common site of injuries for runners. Maintaining flexibility and stretching your lower back can decrease your risk of injury.
To stretch your lower back:
You probably know that your quads play a vital role in running. Loosening your quads before a run and also post-run decreases muscle tightness and soreness.
To perform a standing quadricep stretch:
Stretching should become a regular part of your training routine. Stretching before and after a run is optimal for keeping your muscles loose and flexible and preventing injury.
If you are short on time, focus on doing two or three stretches. Ideally, try to hold each stretch for between 20 and 30 seconds and repeat each stretch twice.
When you stretch, avoid overdoing it. You can overextend when stretching and injure yourself. You should stretch until you feel tension, but it should not hurt.
Start with stretches that are easy and gradually incorporate more challenging ones into your routine. Also, vary your stretches from time to time. But try to do at least one stretch for your hamstrings, quads, calves, glutes, and lower back each time your run. Making stretching a part of your running routine may reduce your risk of injuries and keep you on the road!
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