You’re in a rush, went for a run after work and all you want to do is get in the shower—but WAIT! Let’s rewind, you forgot two extremely important injury-prevention steps: your pre- and post-run stretches. Running will make your legs strong and toned, but it also tightens your muscles. Running with tight muscles may lead to muscle and tendon injuries over time, ultimately slowing you down.
Active.com recommends dynamic stretching pre-run and static stretching post-run. Follow the stretching guide below to prevent injury and keep your muscles flexible.
1. Leg Swings
Hold onto something for balance (i.e. wall, pole or railing) and swing your leg back and forth 20 times. Switch legs and repeat.
2. Walking Lunges
Before you start, stand with your legs hip-width apart and feet parallel. Step forward with your right leg, bend straight down until your left knee is an inch away from the ground and your shin is parallel to the floor. Push off your left leg and bring your feet to a parallel and hip-width position. Repeat on the opposite leg, complete a total of 20 lunges (10 times each leg). When lunging maintain the hip-width apart position, imagine you are following railroad tracks.
1. Kneeling Hip-Flexor and Hamstring
With your feet hip-width apart step your right foot forward into a kneeling position (90 degree angle, hip to knee). Keep your posture straight and your head facing straight in front of you. Finally, gently press your left hip forward to deepen the stretch. Repeat on the other leg, hold the stretch for at least 30 seconds.
2. Standing Quad
Hold onto something for balance (i.e. wall, pole or railing). Begin the stretch by standing with your toes and hips pointed forward and your feet together. Bend your left knee and grab your left foot with your left hand. Make sure that you knees are touching, your back is straight, and your hips are pressed forward. For a deeper stretch, press your foot into your hand, meanwhile keeping your hand firm resisting the pressure. Hold for at least 30 seconds and repeat on the other side.
3. Standing Calf
Find a sturdy wall and stand with your chest facing the wall. Extend your arms out at chest height and grasp the wall gently. Take the ball of your left foot and press it on the wall, with your right foot remaining fall on the floor press your body forward until you feel a stretch in your calf. Hold for at least 30 seconds and switch sides.
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For the runner who may be running her first 10K, or first race, and does not have a specific goal time in mind. This plan will help get you to the starting line, prepared to run the whole 6.2-mile distance.
For the runner who has run a few races before (a 10K or two, and even a half or full marathon), but does not run every day or every week when she is not preparing for a race.
For a runner who regularly runs races, and is looking for a strong performance in October. Maybe even a PR if the day is right. This plan will help you get there.
Before beginning or adjusting any exercise plan, you should consult your medical professional for guidance. Please always train with caution, listen to your body, and use your best judgement in exercising. We can’t wait to see you on race day.