6 Stretches You Should Do Before Running
Stretching before running is an essential part of any runner’s routine. Proper stretching helps to improve performance and reduce the risk of injury, so it’s important to make sure your stretching technique is correct. Not only can inadequate or incorrect stretching lead to sore muscles and a decrease in power, but it can also increase the likelihood of developing conditions such as shin splints or back pain.
Dynamic warm-up exercises are a great way to prepare your body for running by increasing your range of motion and muscular flexibility. They involve active movements that mimic the actions you will be doing during your workout, such as leg swings and jumping jacks.
These exercises help to improve muscle coordination and minimize the risk of strain injuries. It is also important to incorporate static stretching into your warm-up routine. Static stretching is when you hold a stretch for an extended period of time and can be used to improve flexibility, as well as reduce tension in the muscles.
By incorporating these three elements into your pre-run routine, you can ensure that your body is fully prepared for the activity ahead. Doing so will help improve your performance, reduce the risk of injury, and make running a much more enjoyable experience.
Below are 6 stretches we recommend that you put into your warmup routine.
6 Stretches You Should Do Before Running
1. Calf Stretch: Stand facing a wall, and rest your hands against the wall at chest height. Place one leg behind you, with the foot flat on the ground, and bend the front knee until you feel a gentle stretch in your calf muscles (behind your shin). Hold this position for 30 seconds before switching legs. Doing this stretch helps to reduce strain placed on your calves while running and warms up these muscles.
2. Quadriceps Stretch: Stand with one hand resting on a wall to maintain balance if necessary, then use your free hand to hold onto the ankle of your other leg (or loop a towel or yoga strap around it) and bring that heel up towards your buttocks. Make sure you keep both knees together while you hold the stretch for 30 seconds. This stretch helps to loosen up your thighs and the muscles responsible for bending your legs when running.
3. Hamstring Stretch: Lie flat on your back, then bring one leg up towards you with a straight knee, keeping the other leg flat on the ground. Use both hands to grab onto your thigh or knee (or loop a towel or yoga strap around it) and pull it gently towards you until you feel a comfortable stretch in your hamstrings. Hold this position for 30 seconds before switching legs. Doing this stretch helps reduce tightness in the back of your legs, which can lead to injury if not addressed during warm-up exercises.
4. Gluteal Stretch: Lie on your back and bring one knee up towards your chest, then cross the opposite ankle just above the knee. Wrap both hands around the bent leg and gently pull it towards your chest until you feel a comfortable stretch in your glutes (buttock muscles). Hold this position for 30 seconds before switching legs. This stretch helps to make sure that your gluteal muscles are warmed-up and able to work efficiently during running.
5. Lower Back Stretch: Start by lying flat on your back with both knees bent, feet flat on the ground. Place one hand behind each of your knees, then use those two hands to slowly draw both knees up towards your chest until you feel a gentle stretch in your lower back area. Hold this position for 30 seconds before releasing the stretch. Doing this helps to warm up and loosen the muscles that support your spine, reducing the risk of strains and lower back pain during running.
6. Hip Flexor Stretch: Start by standing with one foot about a step in front of the other, then slowly bend both knees as you lean forward until you feel a comfortable stretch in your hip area. Make sure that you keep both feet grounded firmly on the ground while doing this stretch. Holding it for 30 seconds before switching legs. This is an important stretch to help loosen up your hips which are used heavily when running.
By taking the time to perform these 6 stretches before running, you can reduce the risk of injury and make sure that your body is properly warmed-up for the run ahead. Not only will this help to improve performance, but it can also help prevent long-term damage or post-run soreness due to lack of stretching. So if you're serious about running, make sure you give yourself a few minutes before each session to do these stretches!
How Physical Therapy Can Help In Your Running Performance
Staying healthy is essential for any runner looking to stay in top form and maximize their performance. A consistent physical fitness routine, proper nutrition, and regular visits to a physical therapist can help support the body’s needs when running. Not only will this keep runners safe from injury, but it also helps improve performance by increasing strength and endurance.
Physical therapy is a great way to facilitate recovery after intense runs or long races. Physical therapists use targeted exercises and treatments that target specific areas of the body to reduce pain or tension in the muscles and joints associated with running.
This type of therapy can be helpful for reducing inflammation, improving flexibility, strengthening weak muscles, restoring range of motion, and optimizing alignment for better balance - all crucial components for overall performance.
If you are experiencing pain or discomfort while running, physical therapy can help identify the underlying cause and provide effective treatments to restore your body’s balance.
Physical therapists can assess areas of weakness or tightness and create a tailored exercise program to address these areas of concern. This helps reduce strain on the body and improve running technique so that you can continue to enjoy running without fear of injury.
Are You Dealing With Pain That Is Keeping You From Performing At Your Best?
Staying active is important. Runners often times are sidelined due to an injury that just won't go away and it keeps them from running at their best. If that sounds like you, then schedule a free phone consult or contact us to arrange an Running Injury Assessment. You can also feel free to give us a call at 845.675.8444 (We still like to talk on the phone!)
If you want more information on how to best treat a running injury or one that has kept you on the sideline, visit us at Empire Sports Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation.
Don’t let an injury keep you from what you love to do!
We love to keep people in the Valley Cottage area mobile, active, and off pain pills - let our expertise go to work for you to help you return to the activities you love.
Until next time,
David Stedjan, PT
Other Free Resources from Empire Sports Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation...
Free Report for Ankle Pain - 7 Vital Actions to Eliminate Foot and Ankle Pain Without Surgery or Pain-Meds
Read Our Blog - Do You Have Ankle Pain After Running?
Read Our Blog - The 4 Tell-Tale Signs that an Injury Will Stop You from Running