Running is often presented as the easiest of exercises.
Open the door, one foot in front of the other, around the block and back.
The difficulty that tends to crop up when running more often – those brand new niggles, aches and pains from a new adventure.
Discussing this with friends or colleagues who run tends to lead to the discussion of a “warm up” or “stretching”.
As a new runner, where do you go from here?
Let’s start with stretching.
A much debated topic, should stretching happen before a run? After a run?
Stretching fits into two general categories – static and dynamic.
Static stretching evokes the time-honoured mental image of sticking a leg out in front of you, trying to touch a toe, feeling a new strain of sorts in a hamstring.
When stretched, a muscle lengthens – decreasing tension, and rewarding the athlete with a feeling of ‘loosening up’.
Think of your muscles as an elastic band of sorts – if you stretch an elastic band as far as possible repeatedly, the middle portion becomes weakest. This generalisation holds true in the science of stretching, with static stretching failing to show a reduction in injury risk or running economy. The loss of muscle tension whilst statically stretching can inhibit running economy, whilst making elastic or explosive movements involved in running more difficult.
This leads us to dynamic stretching, a method of stretching which focuses on movement whilst stretching a muscle. Through a dynamic movement, an individual can maintain muscle tension, increase body awareness (proprioception), and gradually increase heart rate, all whilst priming the central nervous system prior to exercise.
Below are 9 recommended dynamic stretches – with an additional video resource displaying a further 40 dynamic stretching examples for variety.
Before your run – choose 4-6 dynamic stretches and perform 10 repetitions (or 10 per limb), with 2 minutes rest between each stretch.
Heres’s a video with more information: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VwqwbyI9XBI&feature=emb_title