The Benefits of Running Stretches
A good little stretching routine should be like brushing your teeth before going to bed. Implement it early, stick to it and it will reward you with a happy life. The main benefits of stretching are:
During running you use the same muscles repeatedly and so they are getting stronger and tighter. In the meantime some other muscles that are used less will be getting weaker. With stretching, you reduce the stiffness of the strong muscles and strengthen the weaker muscles, ensuring a good muscle balance.
2. Muscle cramp prevention during activities.
3. Faster recovery.
4. Flexible bodies walk lighter and happier.
You will notice the benefits in your everyday life too. Flexed muscles open up your range of motion, where tight ones do the opposite. Imagine you are running, and suddenly there is a massive puddle in front of you. You can carry on running, bounce off, stretch those legs wide and fly over it or stretch your legs not so wide and land it in, or simply stop and walk around it and then start running again. You could do either of these, but guess which one is the most fun?
When to stretch?
It is advisable to stretch after the run, when the muscles are warmed up and the joints are lubricated. A basic stretching routine will take around 10 minutes.
Get into the stretching position slowly, find the point where you feel the tightness and hold for 20-30 seconds (ideally 30). Some people are more flexible than others. Don't try to push the stretch as far as your friend, but instead be guided by your body. We are all unique. You should not feel any pain or discomfort when stretching.
And do not forget to do the stretching exercises on both sides.
1. Reduce Lactic Acid
When you finish your run, lie down on your back with your buttocks touching the wall, and put your legs up straight against the wall. You can also hold your arms up. This pose will reduce the build up of lactic acid in your limbs, and calm you down after the run.
Still on the floor, grab one foot with your hands and gently pull it towards your body, while keeping the leg stretched. If you find it hard, bend the 'resting' leg and put the foot on the floor. If you can't reach your foot, place a rubber band or a towel around it and stretch pulling on it.
3. Hamstring and Back
Next, bend your legs and hug them and gently, pulling them to the chest. This will stretch your hamstring and lower back.
Push yourself up into a sitting position and put the soles of your feet together in front of you. Then place the elbows on the knees and slowly lean forward pushing the knees towards the floor.
5. Full Length Stretch
The easiest way to get into this position is to stand on all fours - hands under the shoulders and knees under the hips. Tuck your toes in, lift your knees, and slowly straighten your legs, gently pushing your buttocks away from your arms. Breath deep looking at your knees. This will stretch your hamstrings, back and arms.
From here walk your hands towards your body, touch your toes and gently pull at them. Make sure your feet stay hip-width apart.
Roll yourself up. Knees together, bend the left leg, holding it at the foot with the left hand, and gently pull towards your buttocks. You can use your right hand for support (place it against the wall), but if you're balancing okay, hold the bent leg with both hands. Make sure you stand straight and don't lean forwards or sideways.
8. Hips and Calves
Stand straight, place one foot forward and lean against the wall. Then slowly bend your arms and keep bringing your body towards the wall. Hold your head up and keep your feet flat throughout the stretch.
9. To Finish
To sum up the stretching set, interlace your hands above your head and stretch your shoulders, pushing the hands up away from your ears.
I hope you enjoy this routine. If you found it helpful or if you have any questions, let me know in the comments below. Sometimes routines get boring, or you might find there are other bits getting tight.
These are exercises that we've found very useful and want to share with our customers. But we're not certified instructors. Always consult your specialist before beginning any exercise programme. This general information is not intended to diagnose any medical condition or to replace your healthcare professional. Consult with your healthcare professional to design an appropriate exercise prescription. If you experience any pain or difficulty with these exercises, stop and consult your healthcare provider.