Running and Stretching: How They Relate
Running is an activity that takes a lot of effort by the body and individual, but can be rewarding in many ways. Any runner or potential runner will want to come up with strategies to reach his or her optimal performance level. It doesn’t matter if you run competitively or not, the way you prepare will directly impact how you feel before, during, and after a run.
Finding an optimal performance level is about maximizing opportunity. It directly translates with how a person feels like part of the run. Stretching is one factor that can be deemed vital in the process of running. There are ways that one can go about their stretches, but they want to ensure that they are giving enough planning to the process and doing so in a way that promotes health.
The Art of the Muscle Stretch
Running isn’t going to be enjoyed if the runner is inhibited through the strain of a muscle or a hip flexor that isn’t as open and flexible as one would like. It simply isn’t easy to run with stiff and tight muscles. This is exactly why we stretch. Stretching not only loosens up the muscles, but the more flexible one gets, the wider range of motion he or she will have. This is especially required in an activity as demanding as running.
Going on a run with a limited range of motion and tight and stiff muscles seem to be a recipe for injury. Physical injuries are the ultimate nemesis to someone who loves physical activity. Finding a stretching routine that allows a person to increase flexibility while creating a wider range of motion is going to be a fantastic benefit to a runner. It sets up the question: when should one stretch?
When to Stretch
There has long been a debate in running circles and other gatherings regarding the best time to stretch as it pertains to physical activities such as running. Stretching is a healthy activity on its own. One doesn’t have to look far down to road to understand the benefits of stretching on its own. Take a yoga class and you will surely feel the effects. Concerning the stretching around running, when is the best time to do so for a runner to reach their peak?
It all depends on the type of stretching that one elects to do that decides what is best. In short, it is best to stretch the muscles before and after the run but the way in which one does that is different. You will not want to hop off the office chair after 8 hours of sedentary activity to go run an intense 10-mile trail run without doing some sort of warm-up beforehand.
Stretches Before the Run
The types of stretches you will want to do before the run simply involve warming up the muscles, joints, tissues, and your body as a whole. This wouldn’t be a good time to do a static stretch–a static stretch is one where you hold a particular position for an extended period of time. Think of touching your toes for 30 seconds, as an example. This isn’t the best way to warm up a muscle and can lead to further problems. The types of stretching a person want to practice before the run is something that promotes a functional range of motion.
This is where dynamic stretches will benefit a runner before the race over static stretches. A dynamic stretch is going to aim to warm up the muscles. Think of things like high knees, butt kicks, leg swings, and even a very light jog. The goal is to loosen the muscles and get them warmed up for the run.
Stretches After the Run
It is important to stretch after the run and it is here where you can focus on the above mentioned static variations of the stretch. Your muscles will certainly be warmed up after a nice run and here you can increase your flexibility by holding positions for extended periods of time. You may feel tight in your calves or hamstrings so it will be beneficial for you to stretch them out. The blood in your muscles will be present after a run and this will allow static stretching to have a positive impact. You will increase flexibility to the best of your body’s ability after a run.
Great accomplishments aren’t developed in a day. If your goal is to improve your running, practice healthy habits and build your performance levels gradually through strict adherence to your routine. Know what ways to stretch before and after a run. There is no better feeling than a long run free of injury concerns or a worry altogether. Take proper precautions to ensure that.