What’s really important for exercise, but most people don’t do? Stretching!
What are the best stretches for running? Isn’t necessarily a question we get asked a lot by runners; however from our experience in biomechanics, it’s certainly an important one. More than half of our customers have less than the required flexibility for efficient running and a large percentage of the injuries we see could have been prevented with a good stretching programme!
Well for starters as discussed above, a good stretching programme can not only help reduce the possibility of injury, but can improve overall athletic performance. Also depending on your sport or activity then regular stretching can mean the difference between actually being able to do what you want to do or not!
- Stretching improves muscular range of motion (ROM), muscles with a greater ROM can be stretched further without tearing or damage, thus reducing the risk of muscular tears/sprains.
- When muscles on both sides of a joint are correctly stretched and in balanced tension then the joint can sit in a more neutral position and therefore in most cases there will be less stress on the joint.
- Joint ROM is greatly affected by muscular ROM, so in order for joints to function correctly it is imperative that the muscles that move the joint are well stretched to avoid any restrictions or imbalances in movement.
- The act of warm down and stretching helps the body to recover from exercise including flushing out waste products that can cause aching and soreness.
Should I stretch before or after exercise?
This is a question that raises some debate, as many argue that stretching before exercise is a waste of time as cold muscles shouldn’t be stretched and also any benefit is lost through the exercise itself. However stretching before exercise can help to reduce injuries and improve mobility before starting. The key here is the type of stretches used and how well you warm up.
Avoid static stretching and instead perform some relevant mobility exercises to a low intensity (dynamic stretching). So for running, arm and leg swings, high knee thrusts and leg kick backs are all great mobility exercises to add to your warm up.
Gently cool down, by slowly lowering your heart rate whilst still moving (bring your run down to a walk, rather than just stopping). Then move onto at least 6 minutes of static stretching, holding each stretch for at least 20 seconds, but ideally 30 seconds to a minute.
The best stretches for running
So now you know how to stretch, what are the best stretches for running? Here is our list of the most important stretches for running, we have covered all of the main muscle groups active in running.
Inner Thigh Stretch
So that is our list of the best stretches for running, remember static stretching after running and dynamic stretching before running. If you have any good stretches to share with your fellow runners, comment below.