You’ve got your running shoes laced up, your earbuds bumping your favorite workout tunes, and your water bottle filled to the brim...you’re ready to take off then, right? You’re probably itching to start your run immediately, especially if you’re training for an upcoming marathon. You may be prepared with all of the right running accessories but your body also needs time to prepare efficiently for that long distance run. A good set of pre-stretching routines help to prep your body for the workout ahead of you and they can also help you attain extra flexibility to beat your personal record-- believe it or not! Here are some quick stretches to add to your warm-up and get your run started off on the right foot, pun intended.
Calf-Stretch. Strong calves support a strong body and well-stretched calves are key to preventing injuries. A simple calf stretch is perfect to begin your stretching routine. Simply position one leg (choose whether you’d like to start with your right or left leg-- you will alternate both sides anyway) in front of you and bend slightly at the knee while keeping the leg that is behind you straight and firmly in place. Count to twenty or thirty seconds and switch sides. You will definitely feel your calf muscle pulled taut with this stretch.
Hamstring Stretch. Hamstrings often get tight during a run and, consequently, extremely sore once the run is completed. Proper hamstring stretches help to prevent this issue and a combination of two stretches doubles up on your protection. You will want to perform these stretches prior to warming up with a slow jog-in-place or brisk walk. For the first stretch, sit on the ground and straighten one leg out directly in front of you (again, you choose which side to start with) while bending the other leg towards the inside of your thigh. Slowly lean forward as far as you can go, keeping your back as straight as possible, and hold this position for thirty seconds. Switch sides and repeat. Afterward, stand up and begin the second hamstring stretch. Plant one foot in front of you and extend the foot in the air while keeping your heel directly on the ground. Bend the leg that is behind you slightly and lower your bottom as if towards the ground. Extend your arms slightly behind your shoulders with your palms facing upwards and hold for thirty seconds. Switch sides and repeat.
Quads Stretch. This easy stretch is pretty much synonymous with a “runner’s stretch” and works well to maintain those large quad muscles. Stand straight, choose a leg to start with, and pull it directly behind you with the same hand on that side, keeping your knee pointed directly towards the ground. Hold for thirty seconds and alternate.
Keeping your body in tip-top shape is crucial for every runner, with great emphasis placed on long-distance and marathon runners. Preserve the strength and endurance of your amazing body with some simple stretches so you can keep on running for many more years to come.