The lowdown on stretching for runners

Stretching, we love to hate it, but it's a necessary evil for all runners...

The lowdown on stretching for runners

Knowing how and when to stretch is key for keeping your body fit and ready to run. But contrary to popular belief, you don't need to stretch before every single run, as stretching cold muscles can have an adverse affect. If you're heading out for a gentle jog and don't have any injuries, you should be good to go.

However if you're going for a longer or more intense run, you will benefit from some extra care, both pre and post-run. Incorporate the following stretches into your routine and reap the rewards for a lifetime.

Dynamic stretching pre-run

The clue is in the name. Dynamic stretches are used to get your muscles warm and ready to run. In this instance this type of stretching should be done before you start running, as it gets your muscles ready to work while stretching them at the same time.

These can vary from skips, to 'opening the gate' with your hips, with each targeting a variety of muscle groups. 

Try this sequence by Dr. Ryan Debell from The Movement Fix before your next speed session or long run and see how you get on. 

Static stretching post-run

You will probably be more familiar with this type of stretching. Static stretches should be performed once your muscles have warmed up, following some light exercise or after you have finished your run.

It's essential to warm-up before static stretching, as stretching your muscles before your body has had the chance to warm up can lead to strains and in some cases, injury.

Static stretches will prevent your muscles from over-tightening and help you to recover before your next session, saving those precious pins from injury.

Active Isolated Stretching (AIS)

AIS is a good option for runners who find stretching difficult. A opposed to prolonged stints, every stretch should be a short burst.

Each movement should be completed with a two second rep followed by a rest so that your muscles are fully relaxed. 'AIS aims to stretch muscles when they are maximally relaxed, providing for effective stretches with low risk of injury,' advises Dr. Ben Kim

Each stretch is repeated 8 -10 times, increasing the circulation of oxygen and blood flow to the muscles.

AIS is a great way to improve flexibility, aid muscle recovery and improve ease of movement. From hamstrings to hip flexors, Adarsh Williams has step-by-step AIS stretches on his YouTube channel 

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