4 Best Stretches to Do before Running

Stretches-before-Running

This is a guest blog posting from Patrick, a fitness trainer and a blogger at Fix Your Walk. He has created his website in order to help people who are suffering from foot pain caused by many different factors. Make sure you follow him on Twitter 

Stretching for runners is a very important topic. Like with almost everything there are different opinions about it. Some runners absolutely don’t stretch before they run. They warm up by starting out slow and stretch after.

The most common way and also the most practiced one in coaching pro athletes is to warm up for about 20 minutes and stretch before running. Today we are discussing the importance of this active stretching before running recommendations for our favorite stretches for runners.

Stretching before Running

Nothing is more disheartening than having to forgo your regular runs or cut down the distances drastically as a result of an injury. And this is more so when the injury results from something that you are so sure you could have prevented.

Whether you have been running all your life or are just starting out, there are some ‘unwritten rules’ that you have to keep in mind if you want to get the best outcomes from your runs. Key among them is always doing some stretches before you hit the trail. Stretching before running not only gets you in the mood for running but it also prepares your body for the run ahead. Also, it is one of the best ways to prevent foot injuries from running. And if you are not sure what stretches to do before your runs, here are 4 easy but very useful ideas.

4 easy stretching exercise before running

#1 Hip Circles for runners

Hip circles are one of the most common pre-workout stretches and an excellent way of stretching before running. This good old stretch might look too simple but it is quite useful for runners as it opens up the joint muscles to help prevent injuries from running.

How to do the stretch:

  • Stand with both your hands on the hips and the feet about hip-width apart.
  • Start circling your hips in one direction the same way you would do when hula-hooping.
  • Make the circles wide (gradually) until you start making a full range of motion.
  • Do about 10 rotations in one direction before switching to the other direction.

#2 The Walking Lunges active stretch

Walking lunges are one of those stretches and a great warm up that you should always make part of your running routine regardless of your fitness levels. They are quick and easy to do but very effective in opening up and activate most of the important muscles groups in your legs that you will be using when running. Again stretching before running is key to stay healthy and warm up properly before you hit the road.

How to do the stretch:

  • Start from a standing position with your feet close together and take a long step forward with either the left or right foot.
  • Bend the knee on the extended foot to form a 90-degree angle and also bend the knee on the back leg until it is almost touching the ground.
  • Hold the position for a few seconds before rising up and doing the stretch with the other foot.
  • Repeat the lunges about 10 times.

#3 Side Stretch

If you are a regular runner, the chances are that you have had to deal with side stitches at some point as they are quite a common problem. Although it is not clear what causes them, stretching your torso before running can help prevent them.

This is a great stretch to add to your stretching before running routine. And you can do these side stretches both while standing and as part of a kneeling flexor stretch.

How to do the stretch:

  • Bring the arms over the head and make sure to keep the abdominal area tight.
  • Lean to the right and then to the left while bending on the waist.
  • Hold the side stretch on each side for a few seconds.

#4 The Hip Flexor Stretch

Those individuals that are always seated in front a computer at work are likely to have tight hip flexors as they spend most of their time in a constant state of flexion. Hence, it is vital to stretch them out adequately before running. And although there are many ways of hip flexor stretching, the dynamic kneeling version offers the most advantages.

How to do the stretch:

  • When starting, get into a lunge position with the front foot at a 90-degree bend.
  • Stretch the back foot until you feel a stretch along the front section of the thigh.
  • While keeping the front knee aligned over the toes, raise the arms up over the head and hold them there for a few seconds.
  • Continue with the forward dynamic motion while raising your arms up and lowering them as you move back to your starting position.
  • Repeat the stretch about 5 times before switching to the other leg.

Should you stretch before running?

YES! It is hard to overemphasize the importance of stretching before running and any fitness expert will tell you that it is almost as important as the actual run. A prober warm up should be a part of your routine.

Apart from preparing your body for the run by relaxing the muscles and joints, it also helps to prevent foot injuries from running. But, also make sure that you do not overdo the stretches and tire out the body before running. The four stretches above are simple and still very useful but there are still many others that you can do before your runs like the knee hugs, quads stretches and also holding sumo squats to open up the pelvis.

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