Today on Fit Friday we’re going to talk about the importance of stretching before a run. While the benefit of it has still not been conclusively proven or disproven, it has been found to aide optimal muscle and joint function and improve blood flow for best athletic performance. Running is a very demanding sport on the body, it is critical for anyone who wants to enjoy the activity for a long time and avoid potential problems that could hinder your experience. When you incorporated correctly into your regimen you will optimize overall results, avoid injury and properly prepare the body after your warm-up.
Stretching is best performed when your muscle fibers are warm. It helps lengthen the muscle and actually aid in a longer stride. Stretching a cold muscle can result in microtears in the muscle fibers and fascia, both leads to pain and increased stiffness of the muscles. Warm up before your stretch, your warm up should consisting of five to 10 minutes of “moderate intensity cardio”. A hot bath, shower, or sauna can also warm your muscles.
There are two forms of stretching, dynamic and static.. Dynamic stretches performed before your run help lubricate joints and muscles can increase muscle spindle length in preparation for activity. A great dynamic stretch consist of moving joints in greatest range of motion repetitively, ie. forward and back legswing which will optimize your inner thighs and groin muscles. Contract abs while being supported next to a wall, kick outside leg forward from you hipbone as far as you can go increasing swing as you repeat 10-15 times. It is recommended to do three to four sets each side.
Static stretches on the other hand, after your run help relax and restore them to their resting length. A good static stretch excercise example would be to take your muscle to its longest length and holds it there for an extended period of time, usually about 20 to 30 seconds each. It’s like cooling down after a treadmill run, relax into your static stretch while breathing slowly. Do not bounce into your stretch, as you are more prone to tear muscle fibers at this time as well.
Stretching improves force, jump height, and speed, according to a 2004 study in ” The Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine”.”If you choose to stretch before you run, warm up for five to 10 minutes by jogging or walking. The journal also recommends runners focus on stretching all the major leg muscle groups including your calves, hamstrings, quadriceps, groin and hip flexors. On your journey to overall health it’s an awesome add-on to get the best results out of your body.