When I ask runners if they stretch, I often see diverted eyes and silent nods as they mumble, “When I have time I try to…sometimes.” It is like when your dental hygienist asks if you floss every day as they are performing your cleaning, you grunt sounds of “Yeah, yeah, of course!” I’m going to let you in on a little secret- they know the majority of us don’t floss every day (for the record, we should all be trying to floss every day!) It’s similar to the way a physical therapist can tell if you aren’t doing your prescribed home exercise program. I’m not going to give away our secrets here, but we know and we can also tell when you may not be stretching in the appropriate way before and after your runs. This is another one of those common mistakes runners often make during their training.
COMMON MISTAKE NUMBER 2: LEAVING OUT STRETCHING
“But I don’t have time to stretch!”
Trust me, I get it, life is busy and to even squeeze in a run is a blessing. However, even taking 5 minutes to take care of those muscles can save you from injury that will leave you sidelined from your favorite activities. Start with the basics and your muscles will thank you for it.
“There is so much information out there, I don’t know the right way to stretch.”
There is a lot of information out there on stretching and a lot of it is conflicting evidence, which can be confusing. To break it down for you from the latest research, dynamic stretching prior to your workout is best, with static stretching (holding for 3 rounds of at least 30 seconds) to follow your workout.
Static stretching is beneficial to maintaining muscle length, but performing prior to exercise can actually decrease the muscle’s power leading to an inefficient workout. Dynamic stretching (stretching involving movement) helps get muscles warmed up and ready to work.
Try out these dynamic stretches before your next run and let me know how they go!
Start in a high plank position, slowly walk your feet towards your hands keeping your legs as straight as possible. Once you have reached your stretching point, slowly walk your hands back out to high plank position. Perform 10 rounds.
Lunge with twis
Step forward into a lunge/runner’s stretch as shown and reach both arms up overhead. Return arms to the front then slowly twist towards the side of the front leg. Return to center and then step forward to perform with other leg. Alternate sides while moving forward with lunge for a total of 10 rounds to each side.
As always, check with your healthcare provider before starting a new exercise regimen. We offer injury screening and stability training for runners at Resilient Physical Therapy and Wellness in Needham, MA- Visit www.resilientphysicaltherapy.com to learn more and schedule your appointment.
In the next part of our runner's series, we will address foam rolling- stay tuned!
-Sarah Herschberger, PT, DPT
Sarah is the owner of Resilient Physical Therapy and Wellness in Needham, MA.
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