There are three main groups of muscles that are used during running. The achilles tendon, calf, hamstring and those muscles used in the lower back are all used during running. Stretching is just as almost as important as the running is. If done improperly it can be more harmful rather than doing you any good.
Warming up can be ten minutes of easy jogging before transitioning into your run of the day. You can do mild stretches after you warm up. The best time for stretching is “after your runs” when the muscles are all warmed up and the blood is moving freely. The importance of stretching is to keep you injury free for your next day of running. Not stretching out properly after a run, opens yourself up to being sore the next morning.
The achilles tendon and calf stretches can be done by placing both hands against a wall with one extended back leg. At the same time bend the front leg while gradually pushing your body weight on the back leg with both hands on a wall. Switch legs and do the same on the other side.
Next move on to the lower back stretch while moving into a squatting position. In this position normally your heels will rest on the ground flat. However when tight, the foot won’t rest flat. Make sure your lower back is curved with your neck and back relaxed. Let your head drop forward toward a resting position on your chest. When you’re stretched out good, your feet will rest flat.
Next go into a hamstring stretch. One way is from a sitting position. Spread your legs as far apart as you can. Then grab your right hand on your right ankle. Next attempt to touch your chin onto your right knee. At first you will not be able to. If you’ll keep switching knees with you chin, eventually in a few minutes you’ll be able to touch your chin to your knee. Concurrently, widening your legs further apart and switching to your left knee doing the same.
Running has a tightening effect to these various muscle groups. As I mentioned earlier, the stretching is to prevent soreness and injury enabling you to be prepared for the next day of running. If you must run on neighborhood streets, and find as much grassy areas to run on as possible. The best place is to find a local park. The grassy median strip area in between two streets is a good place too!
Gary Cooper is a writer/runner with tons of injury prevention tips for runners! He draws first hand experience from twenty years of running and over 100 races. Stop by his website for much more injury prevention advice. http://runningrunnersrun.com
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