Perform These Stretches For Runners Every Time You Hit the Road
Stretching is an important part of every workout routine. It helps build flexibility and relieve tension, which makes your body more efficient, stronger and less prone to injury.
Although some people believe that stretching exercises are a warm up for a run, this isn't true.
You should never stretch "cold", as this could do serious damage to your
muscles. Your muscles need at least a ten minute warm up, before you
start your stretching routine.
A great way to get your muscles ready for a stretching routine is a brisk ten minute walk or light jog.
Of course, after a run your muscles are already warm, so you can start
your stretches right after you cool down. Don't start too soon. Your
body needs a bit of a break, first.
Any stretching routine that works your entire body will do. However, these stretches for runners are specifically designed to improve your performance and prevent aches and pains commonly experienced by runners.
Hamstring Stretches For Runners
It's very common for runners to have tight hamstrings which causes them to have lower back problems and often leads to pulled muscles.
Tight hamstrings also restrict your range of motion, which affects your form, stride and speed. This hamstring stretch protects your spine, and thereby reduces the risk of low back pain.
Lie flat with your back straight and your legs extended. Keep your lower back on the floor and your hips level. Lift your right knee towards your chest, and keep your left leg extended on the floor.
Hold the back of your right leg and slowly straighten your knee. Gently pull your leg closer to your body. Make sure both of your hips stay on the floor.
Hold this position for about ten to thirty seconds while breathing deeply. Then do the other leg. If this is too much of a strain, bend your knee while you stretch.
Stretching your quads forces the hamstrings to contract, which makes them stronger. Strong, flexible quads are important for runners because these are the muscles that help lift your knees and increase your speed.
Once you master this standing quad stretch, try pulling your leg behind your body for a super hip flexor stretch.
Stand up straight (you can hold onto a chair or wall for balance if you like), and place your feet about a foot apart, keeping your feet parallel and your back straight.
Lift your left foot with your left hand. Hold this position for about ten to thirty seconds while breathing deeply. Then do the other leg.
The piriformis muscle is part of a group of lateral rotators that are responsible for moving the hip. In runners, it tends to tighten up, which can lead to severe pain in the lower back, glutes and thighs. These exercises can help keep your piriformis limber.
Lie flat on the floor, back straight and legs extended, keeping your lower back to the floor and hips level. With your foot on the floor, bend your left knee and put your right ankle on your left knee.
Hold your left thigh with both hands and pull towards your body. Hold this position for about ten to thirty seconds while breathing deeply. Then do the other leg.
Lie flat on the floor, back straight and legs extended, keeping your lower back to the floor and hips level. Bend your right knee and with the help of your left hand, pull it down over to the other side of your body.
Make sure to keep your shoulder blades pressed against the mat. Hold this position for about ten to thirty seconds while breathing deeply. Then do the other leg.
Calf Stretches For Runners
Calf muscles absorb much of the impact of running. Keeping them flexible can improve your stride and prevent injury to your shins.
Stand about a foot from a wall with your arms at shoulder height and hands flat on the wall, elbows bent. Slide one leg back until your arms are straight.
Hold this position for about ten to thirty minutes while breathing deeply. Then do the other leg.
Iliotibial (IT) Band Stretch
Stretching out the illiotibial band can prevent knee problems and pain in your knees.
Stand an arm's length beside a wall, with the left side of your body next to a wall and your right hand on your right hip. With relaxed shoulders, cross your right ankle over the left, keeping your feet flat on the floor and your legs straight.
Hold this position for about ten to thirty
seconds while breathing deeply. Then do the other leg.
Go through this routine after each run and you will notice a huge improvement in your endurance and performance.
Running is a great way to keep your body strong and healthy, but you will be defeating the purpose if you end up with pulled muscles and constant pain.
Take care of your body by stretching out your muscles after every run.