It is important to take the time to incorporate stretching into your running routine. Stretching increases your range of motion and decreases your risk of injuring yourself while running. Stretching after running can dramatically decrease your post-run soreness and stiffness. Stretching in your daily life is also a great way to reduce stress and tension.
Running is a vigorous and a tough all over body workout. Many injuries can be caused by failing to stretch after a running work out and it is even more important to stretch after running to ensure that your muscles have time to lengthen and return to their normal form.
There are a number of reasons why you should spend time stretching after running these include:
1. Improves flexibility and recovery after running
Running takes a hard toll upon your body and particularly muscles and tendons. During running your muscles become contracted (shortened) as you tense your body and as they have to adapt to running surfaces. Stretching after running will re -lengthen them and improve flexibility and also promote a faster recovery. If you have ever felt stiff a few hours after running or for a number of days afterwards, this is the effect of lactic acid on your muscles.
Tip: To see the benefit of stretching, try running without stretching afterwards and then next time take time out to do a 10 minute warm down of stretches. Compare how you feel after doing both and you’ll notice the benefit of stretching.
2. Reduce the effects of lactic acid on your body
During exercise your body works hard to produce energy for your muscles. This is especially so for runners who need a constant flow of energy to keep their muscles moving. If you body is unable to get sufficient oxygen it starts to produce lactic acid which attacks muscles and causes you to become more susceptible to exhaustion, causing you to slow down.
As you rest and your body is able to restore normal levels of oxygen, lactic acid reduces and the muscles return to normality. Lactic acid is bad for your body and gentle stretches after running can help to stretch out tried tendons and muscles and speed up the process of lactic acid leaving the body. As your muscles are also more susceptible to small tears after a build up of lactic acid, stretching after running will also help you relax your muscles by gently lengthening them after they become shortened during exercise.
Suggested warm down program of stretches after running
1. Walk around for 5 minutes to help your muscles to relax and avoid them going into spasms.
2. Stretch out calf muscles (muscles directly behind your knees)
3. Ham String Stretches (These are the muscles at the back of your legs that lead up to your bum) Some of the most common injuries for runners occur to these)
4. Stretch Quadriceps (these are the opposite side of your ham string in your thigh area) These often hurt a lot after doing exercise and you will notice them particularly when you try and sit down and cross your legs.
5. Stretch your lower back. Your back takes a huge beating after running, especially on concrete and it can be painful and sore after a long run
Here are some links for stretching:
More for the IT Band
10 ways to stretch calfs
More help with Plantar Fasciitis
More help with Achilles problems
Hip Flexor Stretch (video)
More help with your hip flexor
Healing hands (for injury and maintenance)
If you have a niggle, are injured or just want some advise please email us through the contacts page.