THE BEST STRETCHES FOR RUNNERS
This one is for you cardio buffs out there – more specifically, the runners.
Every runner knows (or may not know) that running with muscles that are cold and not properly stretched can result in an injury that keeps you off your game for weeks.
For runners, our stretches will focus on the major muscle groups you’ll be engaging – quads, hamstrings, gluteals and hip flexors.
When it comes to stretches, most experts agree that dynamic stretches – stretches that incorporate movement and take your joints through their full range of motion – are better for pre-run warm-ups than static stretches, which are still stretches that you hold for extended periods.
So here goes, our favourite dynamic stretches before we head out for a run.
1. Walking Lunges
Not only do walking lunges open up your quads and hip flexors, but they also simulate the forward motion of running, which makes them particularly useful as a warm-up stretch.
HOW TO: To do walking lunges, stand with your feet together and take a long step forward with your right foot. Bend the front knee to 90 degrees and the back knee until it almost touches the floor. Swap to your left and repeat 10 times.
2. Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch
If you work at a desk all day, you probably have tight hip flexors, because they’re constantly in a state of flexion. This makes it extra important to stretch them properly before you work out.
HOW TO: Start in a lunge position with your front knee at 90 degrees. Begin to straighten your back leg, so you feel a stretch along the front of your back thigh. Keep your front knee aligned over your toes. Raise your arms up over your head and hold for a few seconds, then release. Repeat 5 times and switch sides.
3. Side Stretch
Possibly the most common complaint amongst runners are in the case of side stiches. Although the causes of side stitches are unclear, there is a way to prevent them – by stretching your torso.
HOW TO: Bring your arms up over your head and, keeping your abdominals tight, lean to the right and then to the left, bending at the waist. This will work lateral flexion of the torso, which helps open up the hip flexors.
4. Hip Mobility
Your hips bear a lot of the brunt while you’re running, so opening up the joints and muscles of that area before hitting the pavement can help prevent injury. A few minutes of hip circles are an easy way to do this.
HOW TO: Stand with your hands on your hips and your feet hip-width apart. Begin to circle your hips in one direction, almost as if you’re hula-hooping. Make the circles wider and wider until you’re working your full range of motion. After about 6 to 10 rotations in one direction, switch directions.
5. Multiplanar Lunges
Warm up and stretch all the major muscles of your legs by lunging in all directions.
HOW TO: Start with your left leg stationary and lunge backward with your right foot, holding the stretch for a moment, then come back to center and lunge forward with your right foot. Follow with a side lunge, lunging out to your right and holding for a moment. Repeat this lunge pattern five times then switch sides, lunging with your left leg.
Do these 5 stretches before your run, and you’ll be sure end the run on a good note.
Let us know in the comments below what some of your favourite pre-run stretches are.