Stretching is critical for runners because it keeps their muscles flexible, strong, and healthy, which is required for maintaining joint range of motion. Your muscles may become tight and shortened if you do not stretch properly before running. Similarly, when you ask these muscles to do something, they are weak and cannot fully extend. As a result, you are at risk for joint pain, strains, and muscle damage.
Many runners become fascinated by the possibility of increasing their speed and distance. They do, however, sometimes skimp on stretching and other essential components of a well-rounded workout regimen.
As a runner, if you don’t stretch regularly, these habits are holding you back. Stretching on a regular basis will help you perform better and lower your chances of injury. It’s also a relaxing and stress-relieving activity.
Here’s everything you need to know about the importance of stretching when training for increased flexibility and muscle strength:
Stretching Techniques Every Runner Should Know
It’s quite important to maintain the flexibility and strength of your muscles. It may help you age more comfortably in addition to running faster and longer.
1. Always warm up
Warm-ups are essential. Static stretches should be done after a run when your muscles are warm. Prior to running, focus on gentle movements such as walking for a few minutes to get your blood flowing.
2. Keep your boundaries in mind
It’s normal to feel a gentle pull while stretching, but if you feel any sharp sensations, back off. Keep your cool and stay within your comfort zone. Stretching may need to be postponed if you already have injuries or very tight muscles. Icing and massaging the affected area may help you recover faster.
3. Increase the level of resistance
Stretch for about 10 minutes before putting your running shoes away. Working against an opposing force can help you achieve more. While stretching, use your hand or a strap to gently press your body part in the opposite direction.
4. Make a smooth movement
Bouncing causes muscle tightness and increases the likelihood of tears. Continue at a slow and steady pace. Hold stretches for about 30 seconds while remaining still. However, don’t forget to pat attention to your breathing. Breath in time with your movement. Before stretching, inhale as you tense each muscle. Exhale as you lengthen and relax.
Runners’ Must-Do Stretches
Tight hamstrings are a critical challenge for runners, but there are several other factors at play. The hamstrings are the muscles that run down the back of your thigh, from the hip to the knee. However, you should stretch your entire body, not just your legs.
But for your hamstring stretch, follow this guide:
- Place your left leg on the ground and sit.
- If possible, move your right foot toward your inner thigh, so that it touches the top of your left leg.
- Lean forward, bending but not rounding your back and waist, and reaching for your toes with your left foot.
- Hold the position for at least 30 seconds, and rep with the opposite leg.
Please, ensure not to pull your toes back during this stretch. It should be felt in the back of your leg, from the knees to the buttocks.
Keep the following recommendations in mind:
1. Take care of your thighs
Running can cause tightness and discomfort in your hamstrings because the quadriceps on the front of your thighs are often much stronger than the hamstrings on the back of your thighs. Stretching and strength training can help control this muscular imbalance.
2. Relax your hips
You may feel pressure on the outside of your thigh where your iliotibial band (ITB) runs from your hip to your shin if you push yourself too hard. Runners should also pay attention to the groin area, which is located near the front of the hip.
3. Extend your calves
Prevent cramps by performing lower-leg exercises as well. When you run, your calves have to work very hard to push your weight off each foot.
4. Take care of your feet
Stretching is just as important as wearing supportive shoes. To make things easier, many of these movements can be performed while sitting, such as while watching TV or talking on the phone.
5. Keep your upper body in mind
While your legs do the majority of the work when you run, your upper body is also important. Pressure is absorbed by your upper and lower back, especially if you run on hard surfaces. Being limber from head to toe also allows you to maintain proper posture and move with less effort.
References: Essential Stretches for Runners
Hey Joyfreshers, do you stretch before or after running? What happens to your body when you stretch everyday? Let’s discuss in the comment below!