Although most runners know they should be stretching, it doesn’t mean they are doing the right stretches. They may be performing the wrong stretches or even hurting themselves.
The stretch type usually performed before a run has evolved to a dynamic movement instead of a static bent-and-touch type of stretch. But, some runners still do the same stretches they did on the track team. It’s not too late to start stretching. You can still improve your technique and avoid injury by doing it correctly.
Before you start running, you must give your muscles time to prepare for movement. Doing so will allow them to absorb and respond to the stress of the move more efficiently. Here are some great stretches you can try to help prepare your body for running.
To start, stand with a wide stance that’s greater than your shoulder width. With both feet pointed forward, bend your left knee and allow your hips to sit backward. Move your weight to your right foot as you move in the same direction. As you move, keep your core engaged and your upper body upright. Repeat this move for ten reps and then switch sides. This move targets the hip abductors and the core stabilization muscles.
With both arms fully extended, start to swing the entire arm until it comes up in front of you and moves behind you. Keep this move simple by making small circles to build up the size of the movement. For 30 seconds, do this exercise to target the muscles of the upper back, shoulders, and chest.
Straight-leg lateral swing
To perform this exercise, stand with a fence or wall at one of your sides. Standing on your right leg, lift up your left leg to the left and across your body to the right side, keeping your hips pointed forward. Repeat this move ten times, and then switch legs. This move targets the adductors and hip abductors.
Glute and piriformis activation
With your right leg stable, shift your weight to the right leg. Lift your left ankle and bring it across your right leg, which is similar to sitting cross-legged. Hold for three seconds and release the left ankle. Repeat this exercise with your right leg and with your left, alternating legs for 25 yards at a walking pace. This move targets the piriformis and gluteus muscles.
Bent-knee forward swing
Stand with a fence or wall at your side. Bend your left knee to a 90-degree angle and drive it up toward your chest. Keep your hips pointed forward and repeat this exercise 10 times. This move is designed to strengthen the hip flexors.