As wonderful as running is for the body, it is equally as harmful if you don’t stretch out your muscles properly. From pulls to strains, not taking good care of them after an intense run is only opening the door to far more serious problems down the road. As a runner, you probably have your favorite stretches that feel good before and after a run, but it is important to thoroughly stretch all the muscles that you are using when you run. If you need ideas for a better stretching routine, consider a few of the following daily stretches for any smart runner who wants to stay in prime shape:
These muscles are the most used during running and are the most commonly injured. If left alone, they can cause lower back pain and limit motion, severely reducing form, speed and overall stride. To perform the exercise, lie down on your back with your legs extended so they are flat on the floor. Keeping your left leg on the floor, bend your right knee up to your chest. Slowly straighten your right leg so your foot eventually points to the ceiling. Keep your right foot flat for a better stretch. Hold for about 30 seconds and switch legs.
Much like the hamstrings, calves are directly related to proper form and increased stride. When they are loose, they reduce pressure on the shins and can prevent or reduce the occurrence of shin splints. With both of your palms flat against a wall, lengthen your right leg behind you. Once it is a comfortable distance back, slowly lower your right heel to the floor. Hold this for 30 seconds before switching to the left leg. If shin splints are keeping you from your daily run, try this stretch in order to reduce a build-up or pressure. With enough stretching, you can say goodbye to painful shin splints and enjoy a nice run every day again.
Your hips contain both the largest and the smallest muscles in the body. If not kept relaxed, they can lead to arthritis, poor posture and back problems. According to the professionals of Hip Arthroscopy of Utah, one of the best ways to loosen them is the hip flexor stretch. First, place your left leg in front of you so it is bent at a 90 degree angle while putting your right knee on the floor. If this hurts you, add a pillow under the knee. Next, push your hips forward so that you feel a stretch in your front upper thigh. Hold for 30 seconds and switch legs. This is a good stretch for both before and after a run in order to keep your hips open and loose.
These bands connect the hip to the lower leg on the outside of the thigh. When it tightens, it leads to bursitis and knee problems.IT band problems can be caused by many factors—incorrect running form, weakened hip muscles, and overusing the muscles are just a few causes. Keep this in mind during your running routine, especially if you have constant issues with your IT bands. If you feel like this area is tight, try the following stretch: begin by facing your right side to a wall or a chair. Put your left leg in front of your right. Then, slowly push your hip toward the wall. Remember to keep your hips straight, not jutting forward or backward. Hold for 30 seconds and switch.
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Whether you are a die-hard marathoner, an avid daily jogger, or a habitual treadmill-er, it is important to keep your muscles in tip-top shape if you plan to keep on pace with your regular running regimen. Even if you think you know your body, the best way to avoid an injury is to practice thorough stretching for all the areas that are vulnerable while running. Running injuries are extremely common, and proper stretching is a huge part of prevention. Try a few of the stretches above both before and after running to ensure that you can safely enjoy this pastime for many years to come.