Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Should I Stretch Before Running?

A question that I always get is "Should I stretch before running?".  The answer is yes, but probably not the way you're thinking.

What do I mean by that?  Most people don't realize there are two types of stretching: Dynamic and Static.  When most people think of stretching, they envision the old hurdler's stretch, touch your toes, etc.  Those are Static stretches but those should be done AFTER you run so that your muscles are nice and warm.  The stretches that I recommend BEFORE running are Dynamic stretches.  Dynamic stretches are movement stretches.

Before you run, I recommend that you do the following dynamic stretches:

  1. Arm Circles: Stand with your arms stretched out to sides.  Now make small circles with your arms while outstretched and gradually make the circles larger.  Once you get to big circles, revers the direction and start making smaller circles until you're back where you started. 
  2. Forward Leg Swings: While standing, swing one leg forward and back 15-20 times.  Repeat with the other leg.  Hold on to a wall or tree or a running partner if you need to in order to keep your balance.
  3. Side Leg Swings: While standing, swing one leg across your body and then back 15-20 times.  Repeat with the other leg.  Hold on to a wall or tree or a running partner if you need to in order to keep your balance. 
After you run, you'll want to do some static stretches.  Hold static stretches for a minimum of 20 seconds.  I recommend 30 seconds so you fully override what's called the stretch reflex.  It's the muscle's desire to snap back into its normal shape.
  1. Toe Touches: Siting on the ground or on the floor, with legs stretched out, reach forward and touch your toes.  
  2. IT Band Stretch: Standing up, cross your right leg in front of your left.  Bend down and touch your toes.  Hold for 30 seconds.  Repeat by crossing your left leg in front of your right.  You should feel this stretch the upper side of your legs. 
  3. Tree Hugger: Find a tree, a curb or even a wall and face it.  Place one foot so the ball of your foot is on the base of the tree, the curb or the wall and move closer to the object.  You should feel this stretching your calf muscle.  Hold for 30 seconds and repeat with your other foot.
  4. There's  another great stretch in which you lay on your back.  You have a stretch band or exercise rope looped around your foot.  Pull the rope so it raises your leg up like you are trying to get a 90 degree angle.  Hold for 30 seconds and repeat with the other leg.  
If you need an exercise rope, I've listed a great one below.



What is it Like to Run a Virtual Half-Marathon?

What is it like to run a virtual half-marathon? Last year, I signed up to run a new half-marathon in my town. The Hot Chocolate Half-Maratho...