It has always been a big question mark for runners and athletes as well as their coaches as to what warmup and stretching routine to follow. Or whether to perform the stretches before the event or after it.
In order to answer these questions, it is always ideal to do both before and after as both have different significance over our body. The stretching done before is known as dynamic stretching while the stretching done after is called static stretching.
Stretching itself is very necessary for an athlete to decrease the risk of injury, increase blood flow and promote flexibility for different muscle groups.
There are a few key rules that one should keep in mind before performing dynamic stretches for runners:
1) A stretch that is too light will result in next to no effect upon the runner or have any improvement in joint mobility.
2) A violent stretch can cause injury or contractures that may lead to decrease in your flexibility.
3) A stretch that is just right without having to reach limits of danger or pain and is bearable and ideal to produce better results..
Also, one should remember to perform some light active warmup before proceeding with dynamic stretches for runners.
Static VS Dynamic stretches for runners
Static stretching is mostly the stretching people refer to when they talk about doing stretches. This stretching involves relaxing the muscle and then giving then gentle twists, forward bending or backward bending to increase muscle flexibility.
Static stretching is said to be the safest form of stretching as it does not involve any jerky or bouncy movements. The muscle undergoes slow lengthening until it reaches a point of tension.
On the other hand, dynamic stretches for runners refers to balanced controlled movements carried out during warmup. They are also known as pre-run stretches. These movements should be gentle, slow and should be under pain free range of motion for the runner.
Dynamic stretches for runners open up the hips, activate the glutes and make you ready to run with ease. Most importantly, these stretched should feel comfortable and simple.
Given Below are a List of 12 Dynamic Stretches for Runners:
1) Heel and Toe Rocking
This is one of the most basic dynamic stretches for runners that targets: calves, gluteus maximus, hamstrings, few muscles of your ankles. This is done with the help of bodyweight.
Start this stretch by standing with both your feet apart. Put your whole-body weight on your heels and then shift the weight onto your toes. Rock your body weight back and forth from your heels to your toes.
Repeat this stretch 4 times.
2) Standing Heel Taps
This exercise is ideal to achieve hamstring stretch as well as stretching of the glutes.
Stand on your left leg and then bend your right leg and turn the knee outwards. Try to touch the heel of your right leg with your left hand and switch sides.
3) Standing Tensor Fascia Latae Stretch
This part of dynamic stretches for runners is to be felt at the tensor fascia latae muscle, at the side of the hips.
Start with crossing your legs – your right heel touching to the left toes while standing. Now stretch your arms up and bend down towards the left side while you try touching your left toes. Remember to keep your legs straight.
Switch sides. Repeat 5 times with each leg.
4) Lateral Leg Swings
The easiest dynamic stretches for runners, also known as side leg swings. Targets the hip flexor group of muscles.
Start with taking support of a chair or wall. Stand on your left leg and swing your right le from side to side slowly across your body.
Keep your leg straight and switch sides after 6 swings on each side. Repeat this exercise 2 times with each leg.
5) Hurdles Stretch
This stretch is done to stretch the hip extensors as well as the hip flexors.
Start by placing your hands on your waist firmly. Make sure that you keep your shoulders wide and spine straight. It is necessary to maintain proper posture while carrying out this stretch.
Draw your left knee up towards your waist and rotate it towards the left side, from your hips. Place your leg down once you complete the rotation and feel a stretch. Do the same with your left leg. Make sure you keep the other leg firm and straight to avoid misbalance.
6) Knee Pull
This stretch is just as its name indicates.
Standing straight, pull your left knee towards your chest while balancing on one leg. Using your hands, give one tight tug to your knee by pulling it closer to your chest. Relax your legs. Repeat the same with the other leg.
This comes under the muscle groups of the hips and hamstrings dynamic stretches for runners.
7) Standing Calf Hamstring Stretch
Both the calves as well as hamstring dynamic stretches for runners is covered together in this exercise.
Stand straight with your right heel out. Bending your torso down, touch your ankle with the opposite hand and come back up. Bring your leg and heel back to neutral position and repeat with the other leg. Do this stretch 5 times with each leg.
8) Toy Soldier
This exercise focuses on stretching the hamstrings.
Standing straight, lift your right leg up straight in front of you with your knees straight and walk forward. Bring your hands up front as you step forward and try to let your toes touch your hands. Do 5 reps for each leg.
9) Lunge and Reach
This exercise stretches the lower as well as the upper limbs. These dynamic stretches for runners focus on the psoas muscle and the quads muscles of the lower limb.
Start by stepping forward into a deep lunge position with your knee joints at 90-degree position. Make sure the front knee (left leg) doesn’t pass your toes and the knee behind (right leg) should not touch the floor.
Lifting your opposite hand (right hand) up, bend your torso towards the side of the front knee (left side) unless you feel a stretch in your right side of the torso. Then repeat this 10 times.
10) Back Kick Walking
This exercise is great for the stretching the gluteus muscle groups as well as the quadriceps.
Walk forward by kicking your legs back with your heels touching your buttocks. While switching your legs, hopping would help give a dynamic approach to the stretch.
11) Shin Stretch
This exercise is great for stretching the shin and calves.
The movement in this stretching would be like that of pushing a wall with one knee flexed in the forward at 90 degrees and the other leg behind, with ankle in plantarflexion and in contact with the ground.
Place your palms on the wall and perform a pushing motion through your arms. Make sure the flexed leg is planted firmly to the ground. You will now feel a stretch in both your calves and shin. Repeat by switching legs. Do this exercise 5 times by each leg.
12) Ankle Mobility Stretch
This stretch would also need a wall where you can place your toes and tough the ground with your heel, while keeping your legs straight. Place your arms on the wall and initiate a pushing motion by applying pressure on the front heel.
You will now be able to feel a stretch on your calf muscles. Repeat with the other leg. Carry out with 5 reps on each leg.
Advantages of Dynamic Stretches Before Running
- Provides excellent control of joint mobility
- Improvement of moment patterns
- Increases muscle flexibility
- Helps in warming up the body
- Increases blood flow and decreased risk of injuries associated to running
- Can help prevent DOMS
Now that we know a few forms of dynamic stretches for runners and its advantages, why not try it and add it into your running and workout routine along with a few static stretching exercises as well.
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