Stretching – as runners we know we have to but we rarely do! Although running does not require maximum joint range of motion (ROM), such as gymnastics, adequate ROM is still required to reduce risk of injury.
Dynamic stretches increase explosive power when running:
1. Hamstring: Gently swing the leg back and forth, increasing the height of the leg as the muscles warm up.
2. Buttocks: Start as shown, and gently swing the leg across the body.
3. Spine: Stand upright, tuck the chin and roll down to touch the toes. Come up slowly.
Repeat these stretches 5-10 times.
Stretching after a run is important because the muscles are pliable, and will prevent joint stiffness. Improving joint ROM prevents overuse injuries such as ITB friction syndrome.
Hold each stretch 30 seconds, and repeat 3 times per side.
1. Hamstring: Place foot on a step / rock / tree stump. Lean forward from the hips and reach for the toes, maintaining the forward position of the pelvis.
2. Buttocks: Begin sitting on the floor with both legs in front of you. Sit upright and twist upper body over the knee, while pulling the knee up to the chest.
3. Calves: Hold onto a bar and lean forwards with the back knee straight. Push this heel firmly into the ground. Now bend the back knee to feel the Achilles tendon stretch.
4. Quads: Lift foot to the buttock, keep the back straight and tighten the bum.
5. Inner thighs: Keep the back straight and press down on the knees with elbows.
Flexibility is crucial to stay injury-free!