May 112010
 

If you’re planning on taking up running as a regular activity to improve your health – or if you already do – you should realize the importance of properly stretching before going out to run. Stretching your muscles has numerous benefits for them, mainly in that they can perform much more efficiently when you’re working out, allowing you to make better progress. Some runners tend to ignore the importance of this aspect of the practice though – what’s even worse, you can sometimes see it being ignored by people who’ve actually practiced for a good while – and that’s just wrong!

As a runner, your stretching routine can comprise of several parts, and it’s up to you what exercises you decide to include specifically. However, there are several ones which are popularly regarded as simply the best and most indispensable when it comes to stretching before running, so you’d be doing yourself a huge favor by making sure your routine includes at least some of them.

To stretch your quadriceps, which plays a great role in your running performance, lean against a wall on your hand and stand like that on one leg. Then, bend the other one backwards and begin pulling its heel towards your body, pulling it in as much as you can until the pain becomes unbearable. Repeat this several times. Another exercise that can contribute to stretching this area is performed by leaning your entire body onto one leg, and extending the other one backwards so that it bends severely.

You need to pay good attention to your calves as well, otherwise you’re going to notice exhaustion setting in a lot more quickly. The best calf stretches involve leaning against a wall and pushing forward with your hips so that sufficient pressure is applied to the calves. This can be done in two ways – by either bending your knee or keeping it straightened, but both should produce more or less equally good results; for the best results though, try to mix them up and repeat one after the other, which will have an ever greater effect on you.

Don’t forget the bum – it’s quite easy to stretch, you just need to pull your leg in the other way to stretch the muscles around your buttocks appropriately. This can be done more easily when you’re laying down, but there are also some exercises that allow you to do it standing up, so it’s really up to the circumstances under which you perform it.

Don’t forget that it’s often a good idea to stretch after running as well as before – your muscles will be able to relax much more easily after working out if they’re stretched, so if you provide them with that benefit, you’ll notice a greater improvement in your exercise gains – it may take some time, but you’ll definitely notice your stretching paying off sooner or later, so make sure you incorporate it into your workout as best as you can.

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