Thursday, June 26, 2014

Do You Know How to Stretch?

What are your first memories of being taught how to stretch.  Most of us were taught to bend down and touch your toes, holding that pose for 30 seconds.  This is considered a static stretch, when you are stretching your body to lengthen your muscles.  Static stretching typically involves holding a position for an extended amount of time. Static stretching is not recommended before a run because your muscles are cold and tight.  You could actually injure yourself by doing static stretching at this point. 

What is dynamic stretching and what are the benefits? 

Dynamic stretching challenges every part of your body that you use when you run.  They are active movements of muscle that stretch your muscles but are not held in the end position.   Most dynamic stretching progresses through each movement so you jump or skip higher or bend further with each repetition.

What are the goals of dynamic stretching before your run?

1) To increase your heart rate and to get the blood pumping through your body to warm up your muscles.
2) To open your joints, especially the ones that you will be using the most, including your hips, spine, feet, and ankles.
3) Actively stretch your muscles to prepare them for your run.  You will be at a lower risk of injury with looser muscles.
4) You are mentally preparing for you run while you stretch.  Think of it as practicing before the big game.

Here are a few links to recommended dynamic stretches to do before your runs.

As I stated in my last blog post, you should do your dynamic stretching before your run or run at a warm-up pace (2 minutes/mile slower than your normal pace) for 5-10 minutes to loosen up your muscles and prepare them for you run. A little stretching and warming-up will really help reduce the chance of injury during your run.

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