Everyone who runs for fun or who runs seriously is aware that stretching is a vital part of the routine. The question is why do so few runners actually take the time to do it. Three or four minutes beforehand will suffice for most people although there are numerous stretches one can undertake for a fully rounded preparation routine.
Running could be described as a whole body workout – if you’re already a runner you know this, the arms and the abdominal muscles in particular are vital for core strength and stability. However these are what we term supporting muscles – the primary muscles used are of course the ones in your legs. So these are the ones we have to prepare and they are the quadriceps, hamstrings, calf muscle, gluteus maximus (glutes/buttocks) and the hip muscles.
As with any pre-routine stretching, make sure these stretches are gentle – your muscles are not yet warmed up enough to stretch them to the limits. Do not bounce, just apply gentle pressure.
We’ll start with the Quad Stretch. It’s a nice simple one – just stand on one leg with your knees together and your toes pointing forward. Use your hands to lift your raised foot slowly towards your buttocks. Push your hips slightly forwards, hold the stretch for around thirty seconds and swap legs.
The next one is the Calf Stretch and this is also useful as a Hamstring Stretch. Place one foot in front of the other and bend the back knee. Take the weight of your body onto this knee and straighten out the front leg, lifting your toes until you feel the stretch. Push your backside out and make sure you keep your back straight. Again, thirty seconds and swap legs.
This Glutes Stretch looks a little more involved but it’s not really. Just lie on your back and bring your knees towards you, then place one foot on the knee of the other as shown. With both hands grab thigh of the lower leg and pull gently. You will feel the stretch on the upper leg. Complete and repeat.
The last one is the Hip Flexor stretch. Possibly one of the most ignored parts of the body, this is vital part of ytour running mechanism and needs to be looked after. Keeping upright, take a large stride forwards until you feel the stretch. Perform this stretch gently, especially pre-run. Hold for thirty seconds then swap legs.