Stretch Before You Run!

The older one gets, the more prone to injury one becomes.   I never understood all this, until I’ve started to feel the effects of age.  I still consider myself young, yet sometimes my body tells me otherwise.  If I bend down and up too fast, I can pull a muscle and hurt myself.  It’s painful.  Simple things that once before you did without a second’s thought to it, now require some thinking.  Things have to be done slightly slower and with more care to prevent any unwanted injuries.  Nevertheless, I’m not going to let it stop me from doing things I want to!

As we know, running without the proper form can be dangerous to your knees.  However, something else that is equally important and a lot of people overlook is stretching your muscles before the run.  

Before you hop on the treadmill, take a few minutes of your time and stretch the muscles. 

It’s important though that you don’t stretch the muscles and hold them in one position for a long period of time (at least 30 seconds.)   When I was young this is what we were taught to do in gym class, but recently there has been a lot of writing on this matter that it is better to “actively” warm up  before you run. 

“Actively” means repeated movements of the legs that help get the muscles and the blood flow ready for the run.  You swing your legs forward and backward as well as sideways.  Check out this site for some examples:

http://www.runnersworld.com/article/0,7120,s6-241-287–13442-0,00.html

The slower and prolonged stretch exercises though can still be used. Just make sure you save it for after the run.  After running, your muscles are warm with the bloodflow and it is supposedly safer for you to stretch your muscles then. It also helps prevent you from feeling sore and speeds up recovery.

So remember, warm up “actively” before the run and do the more “passive” stretch after the run.   I find that it helps improve my running as well as leaves me feeling less sore.  Another added benefit is that halfway through the run, I don’t start to feel as if my legs are numb from the tight muscles.

Happy running and stretch those muscles!

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