How to Stretch Before and After Running

How to Stretch Before and After Running | Stretches for Runners

There is nothing more frustrating than trying to commit to a healthy lifestyle and finding that you get injured all the time. Running is a great way to improve your fitness, clear your head and enjoy your own company, but if you are constantly plagued by pulled muscles and odd pains, it can be quite annoying. One reason why some people are more prone to injury is they don't realize how important it is to stretch both before and after running. You must stretch your muscles before using them in this way, so here's a quick guide to get you going.

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Although regular exercise is good for you, it can shorten muscles, which in turn leads to feelings of stiffness and poor mobility. This is why it's important to have both cardio exercise and muscle stretching exercises such as yoga. Going straight from the couch to pounding the pavement is not advisable, as it will be a shock to your system. Once you've decided to go for a run and you're up and ready, the first thing you should do is stretch. Start slow and give your muscles a chance to warm up.

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Alternate Leg Raises

Stand comfortably with your feet hip width apart and raise your right leg bent at the knee up to waist level and return it to the floor. Do these 10 times and then change to your left leg. Next, you can speed it up to a high knee march alternating legs one after the other but still at walking type pace.

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Stretch Your Quads

Your quadricep muscles cover most of your thigh and back of the leg. To stretch these muscles, stand on one leg and gently kick the other leg behind you, grasping the ankle with your hand and pulling it into your bottom. Try and hold this position for about 30 seconds. If you need to, use a table or chair to balance on one leg, but you should aim to be able to do this without needing support eventually. Do this about five times and then change sides to the other leg.

Squat

Using a chair for support, if needed, stand with your feet quite wide apart and gently lower yourself into a squat. Again, if you have stiff leg and back muscles, this will be quite difficult to start with, so it is well worth practicing. Aim to do about 20 squats.

Lunges

With one foot out in front and the other behind, bend your front knee and lean into the lunge. Keep the toes of your back leg on the floor, and if this is quite tricky, you can also bend your back knee. Do 10 on each side.

Now, you can head out for your run, but don't run as soon as you leave the house. Pop on some athletic ankle socks and trainers, start with a 10-minute walk and build the pace up from a gentle walk to a brisk movement until you are almost jogging. After 10 minutes, you are free to start your running as you desire. Once you have finished your run, repeat the exercises in reverse order to cool your body down.