Anyone who knows me, knows I hate stretching in fact since I started running in 2006 I have barely stretched, but thats going to change. My plan is to stretch more both before and after runs. My running club does do a stretch session afterwards if I do it, and thats an if, I don’t take it seriously. Once the club reopens post lockdown I will make sure I do every single stretching session, so let’s get into this.
I also spend a fair bit each year going to the physio, because I don’t look after my body and treat it right.
Regardless of what workout or exercise you want to do, it is always important to do some stretching exercises before and after.
Many people overlook the importance of stretching and often only do so before the workout as a warm-up.
However, stretching is equally important at the end of the exercise.
This is because stretching keeps your muscles flexible, helping your joints and muscles remain in a wide range of motion over time.
Even with the slightest exercise or workout, your muscles will be in action and shortened.
Therefore, stretching at the end of an exercise can also help to retain the flexibility and motion of your body.
Did you know that before you start stretching and running, you should first do some simple warm-up exercises?
Doctors actually recommend simple warm-up exercises like walking for five to ten minutes in order to get your blood pumping and flowing through your body, before you start stretching.
This is because muscles respond better to stress after warm-up, followed by stretching. Now that you know how important stretching can be, read on to find out what are some of the stretching exercises you can do before a run.
Our hamstrings are heavily used during a run, and this is why you often feel soreness in that area after a long run or a day of heavy walking.
Hamstrings refer to the back of our thighs, ranging from the hips to the knees.
To stretch your hamstring, start by sitting on the ground and extending one leg.
Place the other foot towards the inner thigh on the leg that is extended, touching your extended leg.
Next, lean your body forward while bending your back and waist towards the extended leg, reaching for the toes.
Make sure to keep your back straight while you bend forward.
Hold onto the extended position for half a minute before repeating with the other leg.
Your quadriceps play a key role during a run.
Often referred to simply as quads, the quadriceps muscle group includes the front and sides of your thighs.
This muscle group is especially important and is heavily utilised when we are running up or down slopes.
To stretch your quadriceps, you should start by standing up straight.
Next, pull one leg up behind you with the hand on the same side— left hand to left leg, or right hand to right leg.
Slowly pull your shin towards your thigh, and tuck your pelvis inwards.
Make sure your knees remain pointed downwards towards the floor.
Hold this position for half a minute, then switch to the other side.
Similar to the quadriceps and hamstrings, our calf muscles are also heavily utilized during running and walking.
The calf muscles specifically refer to the muscles on the back of our lower legs.
In fact, the calf muscles are a key area to pay attention to after a run.
Stretching it properly before and after running can prevent soreness and injury to the muscles.
To stretch your calf muscles, start by standing with one foot behind the other.
Bend one leg forward while keeping the other one straight. Do take note that you should not bend your keep and you have to keep your foot on the ground, pointing forward.
This is to prevent any injuries to the kneecap. Keep your back straight and hold the pose to stretch your calves for at least half a minute.
Once done, repeat with the other leg.
You should be able to feel the stretch from the back of your knees down to the ankles.
Our glutes, or gluteal muscles, are often overlooked and neglected during stretching exercises.
The glutes refer to the muscles on our buttocks and are utilized in not just running but also our daily lives.
For runners, the glutes also play an important role and can make a huge difference to your running performance through stretching and strengthening.
In order to stretch your glutes, lie on a flat surface, fold in your legs to 90 degrees while keeping your feet flat on the floor.
Cross the left ankle over the right knee, followed by grabbing behind your right knee, and then pulling it inwards towards your chest.
Once you feel the stretch in your buttocks, hold the position for at least half a minute then switch to the other side.
The groin is also another area that is often overlooked during stretching.
The groin area refers to the general hip area, between our stomach and thighs.
Stretching your groin properly before and after a run can aid in increased mobility and flexibility of movements during the workout.
To stretch the groin area, start by standing more than shoulder-width apart.
Move your bodyweight towards your right leg without moving your left leg, lean towards the right, and bend forward till you feel a stretch in your inner thigh.
Keep the position for 20 seconds before moving on to the other leg.
Runners should also take note of the lower back muscles during stretching.
To stretch this area, start by lying on your back.
Make sure to lie on a flat and comfortable surface so as to prevent any injuries and discomfort.
Then, hug both of your knees and pull them towards your chest.
You should feel a stretch in the lower back area. You can either keep to the position for 30 seconds or repeat the stretching multiple times during the 30 seconds to stretch the muscles.
Stretching is easy, but many people often overlook its importance before and after exercising and working out.
By properly stretching the key muscles, you can maintain flexibility and a wide range of mobility in your body.
It can also reduce the risk of injuries during a workout. Good stretching is therefore equally as important as a good workout and is the key to keeping fit and healthy.
Simply establish a routine that you are comfortable with and can easily incorporate into your usual work-out and you’re pretty much good to go!