Effective Stretches For Running

Before you set out running, utilize these stretches to help you prevent injury and to increase the enjoyment of your exercise.

Stretching before heading out for a run at first seems like a time waster. Most people believe that their muscles will stretch out enough once they get them moving in a running motion. However, effective stretches are time well spent. You will increase your flexibility and prevent injuries that result from not being flexible. These are simple and easy.

1. Stand with both hands at your sides. Cross one foot over the other. Then reach down and attempt to touch your toes. Hold this position for at least ten seconds. Do it twice, and then cross the other leg over and do the same stretch.

2. Do three sets of twelve jumping jacks. Although old-fashioned, jumping jacks allow your torso, arms, and hips to get loose.

3. Stand with your arms at your sides. Lift your right foot behind you and grab your ankle with your right hand. While balancing one your left foot, gently pull your leg upward until you feel your quadricep muscle stretching. Hold it for ten seconds, and then repeat it. Perform the same stretch with your left leg.

4. Spread your legs a little more than shoulder length apart while standing. Lean forward at the waist. Touch the tips of your fingers to the ground at a point in front of you, at the middle of your feet, and just behind your heels. Perform three sets of ten of these stretches.

5. Sit on the ground with your legs in front of you. Spread your legs apart slightly. Gently lean forward in an attempt to touch the tips of your toes with both sets of fingers. Stretch as far as you can go, then hold your hands there for ten seconds. Do this three times.

6. Staying in that same position, bend your right leg and place it on the ground next to you. Your right heel should almost be touching your right buttocks. Lean back slightly until you feel your leg muscles stretching. Repeat this with your left leg.

7. Walking is also a great way to strech. Should you have the time prior to your run, walk at a brisk pace for approximately five to ten minutes before you embark.

8. Although some will disagree and will claim that it does nothing more than stink, a solution such as Icy -Hot or Ben-Gay will assist in making your stretches more productive. By penetrating deep into your skin, the creams help to bring heat to your muscles, getting them to a good pre-run temperature. However, you should never substitute such a cream in place of stretches; rather, use it in addition to any stretches you do.

Before a race, should you have the time, soak your body in a lukewarm bath. Your muscles perform better when they are warm, and this bath will enable them to get heated up. Perform these stretches after the bath.

One of the most commonly overlooked situations is to stretch after you finish your run. This is a particularly good time to increase your flexibilty because of your muscles being warm. Repeat the above stretches when you are finished with your run.

In addition, the time after your run is the perfect opportunity to do sit-ups or stomach crunches. It is well known that runners' stomach muscles will sag if not exercised regularly. Do the sit-ups and crunches slow and easy. You do not have to spend more than five minutes doing three sets of ten sit-ups, but make it a good five minutes. When you are done, extend both of your arms and rotate them in a circular motion to loosen your shoulders. Drink plenty of water. Cold water gets absorbed faster by the body than lukewarm water. Do your best to stay away from excessively salty foods, as they may lead to stomach cramps.

Utilizing these stretches on a consistent basis will enable you to have enjoyable runs and prevent many injuries that result from inflexibility.

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