While running is an excellent way to stay fit, training and races can take its toll on the body. Stretching can help reduce the repetitive strain that frequent running creates. Here is a sampling of some basic stretches for runners that can be done every day while training; as well as, during and after race day (remember to engage in a light warm up prior to performing stretches):
Stand approximately two feet from a wall with one hip facing the wall or a stable chair. Cross the foot furthest from the wall over in front of the opposite foot. The front leg should have a bend the knee and the back leg should be kept straight. Lean into the wall, while leaning your upper body away to feel a stretch in the side of the hip closest to the wall.
Kneel down on one knee in a lunge position so that knees remain shoulder width apart, back toe is turned inward and shin is on the floor. Lunge position should be long enough so that the front knee should not bend past 90 degrees. Keep your upper body square and upright and gently tuck your pelvis under to feel a stretch in the front of the hip and thigh.
Stand in a lunge position, supporting your upper body against the wall. Keep the heel of your back foot on the floor and your knee straight, while bending your front knee. Shift your body weight forward at the pelvis to feel a stretch in the upper calf area.
Stand and place the top of your foot behind you, bending your knees slightly. Pull as though you are dragging the top of your foot along the floor to feel a stretch in the shin.
These are only a sampling of running stretching programs. These stretches do not cover all the muscle groups that need to be stretched while training. Each of these should be held for approximately 15 seconds. All movements should be slow and gradual, without bouncing into the stretch. Discontinue and inform your health care practitioner if you experience any significant pain that is different from a mild achy pain that is often felt during exercise. Please note that this is not an individual program. Certain stretches may not be indicated for certain conditions. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us!Images and instructions used were courtesy of Phases Rehab.