The wind on your face, heart beating fast, and a familiar song in your ears. Exhilarating, isn’t it? Running can be quite the sport
Every runner can agree it is quite hard to run with stiff muscles. The habit could lead to serious injuries. To avoid this, the majority of runners exercise lightly before running.
If you are wondering what type of light exercise you should take up and are a little skeptic of stretching, then this article is for you
Read on to get more information that will help you answer the question - should you stretch before running?
Dynamic and Static Stretching
Before we continue, it is important to understand the difference between dynamic and static stretching.
It is the answer to whether stretching is good or bad for you?
Static stretching involves stretching your muscle to a point where you feel a slight discomfort. The position is then held for about thirty seconds and then repeated three to five times.
On the other hand, dynamic stretching is more intense and mostly used by athletes. Instead of remaining in a certain position, you repeatedly move your muscles and joints while still in a stretched position.
When done correctly, both stretches improve flexibility and reduce risk of injury.
Warming Up Exercises
Running without a proper warm-up can lead to a disaster. If you do so, chances are that you may not finish the run due to injuries like pulling a muscle or tweaking a tendon.
It is important to note that, warm-up exercises need to be properly done or they could easily be a source of injury. What may seem like a minor injury might lead to a serious condition.
Be keen on not just exercising, but doing it the right way.
Here is a three-step method on how to warm up efficiently.
As negligible as it can be, walking for about five minutes gently transitions your body from sitting to walking mode.
Apparently, this is important as it enhances blood flow to all muscles that are needed for running.
2. Add Strides
Five 100-meter strides are enough for a warm up. Make sure to walk around and shake out your legs for two minutes after each stride.
This exercise is essential in recruiting your fast twitch muscle fibers. It helps your body transition from walking to running mode
3. Do Dynamic Stretches
Perform dynamic stretches as explained earlier. Don’t overwork yourself though. Remember, it’s a warm-up.
Stretching Before Running
Physical therapist, Jason Gromelski says that static stretching before a vigorous activity can lead to serious tissue damage.
Here is why you should avoid static stretching before running
> Probability Of Pulling A Muscle
Static stretching inhibits contraction of nerves. Your body then requires extra energy to counteract this effect in order to run.
As a result, your muscles will tire quickly and in some cases tear resulting in injury.
> Run Slower
Statics show that runners who use static stretching before running perform at a lesser level than those who don’t.
Should You Stretch Before Running?
Before you run, you want to get your blood warmed up as this prepares your muscles to get ready to go.
This is where dynamic stretching comes in handy as it improves the functional range of motion which is more important than flexibility.
Dynamic stretching for about ten or fifteen minutes is therefore ideal for athletic events.
Performing exercises like butt kicks, leg swings, high knees, and light jogs loosen up muscles required in running. They also gently bring up your heart rate which in turn increases your body temperature and blood flow. This action makes you feel warmed up much quicker and ready for some adrenaline rush.
Stretching After Running
Just as it is important to warm up your body before vigorous activity, cooling it down after running is equally crucial.
You may have noticed that after running, your hamstrings, hip flexors, and quads might feel tighter than usual.
And this is why it is important to perform static stretches aimed at these areas. Hold each stretch for about fifteen seconds
At this stage, you can also give yourself a lower leg massage.
Your body will enjoy a gentle cool down and be rejuvenated for the next activity.
As a runner, it is important to understand the benefits of spot stretches. These are stretches aimed at healing or rejuvenating a particular part of the body.
A good example is the shin splints stretches. This refers to stretches aimed at deliberately relieving lower leg pain. This article is useful for more information about shin splints and how to prevent them,
The pain is a result of fatigue and trauma.
Other Exercises for Runners
It is so easy for us runners to get caught up in running and forget that other exercises are important too. You might feel fit already, but you need to work out every muscle.
Thing is, running works out most of the body but not all of it.
Aside from stretches, ever thought of strength training?
Adding strength training to your running program decreases the risk of injury while running. And as the name suggests, it boosts your strength and balance.
Physical therapists recommend strengthening of hips and core to runners experiencing knee pain.
Remember to start with a beginners course so that your body can adjust quickly. Some of the exercises you can include in your routine are:
> Box Jumps
> Single leg deadlifts
> Lower Body Russian Twists
> Stability ball jack knives
Perform each of these exercises for about five minutes. If some are too strenuous on you, then it is advisable you look for simper versions.
Make Your Running Worthwhile By Stretching First
The information above will be helpful in answering the question - should you stretch before running?
You know your body best, find out what type of stretches meet your needs.
Besides, stretching should be done up to a point of slight discomfort and not beyond. Overdoing it can lead to injury.
It is important to realize our bodies have different strengths, therefore don’t strain yourself just because it seems easy when your friend does it.
Feel free to check out our blog for information about stretching and running.