Why is stretching good for Runners?
We all know that we should stretch after exercise, that it's good for us, but we are also all guilty of going for a long run and then 'not having time' or 'forgetting' to do our stretches afterwards. So just how important is stretching for runners and how often should we stretch?
Stretching is good for everyone, but particularly important for people that regular partake in strenuous exercise and physical activity. If you are a runner then stretching regularly before and after your runs will help to reduce risk of injury and improve performance.
Stretching will help a runner to maintain flexibility and range of motion, strengthens the hip flexors, hamstrings and quadriceps. Also, Yoga is particularly good for runners for these same reasons. Regular stretching of the hip flexors will help to improve your posture and stride, therefore increasing your running pace.
Don't stretch old muscles as this is when your body is less flexible and can cause injury or pain. Stretching should be slightly uncomfortable but not painful.
It is always better to stretch after a run (post-run) than before (pre-run) – holding each stretch for around 10-15 seconds.
Pre-run stretching should be light and done after a warm up run or as part of a warm up – for example lunges, squats, leg swings, high knees and butt kicks – are all a good way to warm up and lightly stretch your muscles at the same time.
Post-run stretching helps to eliminate lactic acid and increase circulation, it relieves stress, tension and reduces inflammation in the muscles. Now that your muscles are nice and warm you can focus on specific muscles. Do not bounce during stretching as this can tear the muscles and do not force the stretch.
Some great stretches to do post run are; hip flexor stretch, hamstrings stretch, quadriceps stretch, back stretch – you can see some of these demonstrated in the MedalMad videos.