Stretching

Runner stretchingThe rubber band was taken out of the freezer after an hour stay. When applied force on opposite ends to stretch, the band broke. The rubber band was in a state of cold and non-action, hence when brought to immediate stress it broke. The same rubber band was taken out of the freezer and warmed for an hour. Then while applying force on opposite ends in short easy movements after a minute the same band stretched out a great length and did not break. This experiment simulates the anatomy of our muscles and their performances under stress.

Muscles need time to warm-up and flex in order to perform correctly. If forced into action while cold and not stretched they can tear. Running is a sport that requires the athlete to be diligent and consistent in the care of the body’s muscles, so as to avoid injuries, sprains or tears. This diligence requires a type of warm up and stretching. Safely stretching these muscles before and after each run is crucial, because if the muscles are too tight, injuries are likely to occur.

As a runner begins the stride, the muscles are activated to contract and push in order to produce movement. The tighter the muscle the less mobility of movement which can cause injury if movement is beyond what the muscle is prepared for. The same situation can hinder a faster pace. A long, repetitive motion of this action is essentially like a rubber band being expanded and contracted several times. Once it’s wound too tight, it can eventually snap if not unfolded properly. Therefore, the action of stretching needs to be done pre and post the run.

Pre-run stretching:

Do not, I repeat do not stretch before the run without warming up the muscle! This brings us to the beginning of this tip reflecting on a cold rubber band out of the freezer. You are just inviting an injury even before you start the run. Perform a small 5-minute run, walk or bike to warm the muscles. Plan a pre-run to the pre-stretch on your course to the full run. Start out running for five to 10 minutes then stop for a 15-minute stretch routine followed by the rest of the run.

Post-Run stretch:

After the run, use the “go for it rule,” go for it stretch! You are already warmed up, in fact, most likely burned up from an intense workout. Do, I repeat Do, stretch immediately after your workout! This is the best time to engage in a stretching routine. An important thing to note is that stretching will improve your pace. The more flexible your muscles are the more range of motion is expected. The more range of motion allows for an easier stride which produces faster speeds and frequent turnover rates. So the world of flexibility does not just hinder injuries. Stretching improves overall performance and speed!

Example Stretches:

There are thousands of stretching exercises available from many sources, yoga, books, and the internet. Please search them out, especially using the search term “running” when searching. For this tip, we will explain what I call the core-3 stretches, which should always be included in the athlete’s repertoire. Two very important areas for a runner to focus on are:

  1. The thigh muscles: The brunt of the running work will come from these muscles, so it’s important to stretch them out for a good running workout. This will include the front thigh and the back of the legs.
  2. The calf muscles: Very often, runners get cramps in their calf muscles if they don’t stretch properly or often enough.

CORE-3

The standing quad stretch

  • Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart, pull your abdominals in, and relax your shoulders.
  • Bend your left leg, bringing your heel toward your butt, and grasp your left foot with your right hand.
  • Then switch legs

The standing calf stretch

  • The Stand about an arm’s-length from the wall.
  • Lean forward and place both hands on the wall about shoulder width apart.
  • Extend one foot (the side to be stretched) behind you with heel on the ground and one foot closer to the wall.
  • Lean into the wall with your hips until you feel a stretch in the calf of the extended leg.
  • Hold this stretch for about 30 seconds and change sides.

Standing Hamstring Stretch

  • Stand and bend over with knees straight.
  • Reach toward toes or floor or bring torso toward legs. Hold stretch.
  • Grab your ankles with your hands and pull your torso into the knees for a full hamstring stretch.

In conclusion, stretching is not an action to be performed when you have time, it is an imperative that needs to be a body part of your running workout. The paradigm of connectedness of the running workout. I will go as far to say if you ain’t going to stretch then do not become a runner. This action of stretching is that important!

Happy Stretching and running!

Coach John
RRCW

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