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Running Stretches

Taking up a New Challenge

Have you decided to get fitter and healthier for 2022? Is running one of the activities you have chosen to do. It’s free and it gets you outside, so no wonder it is popular. You must remember though, running stretches are integral to maintaining injury free training sessions and being at your best whilst running. As a result of not stretching, injuries can occur which may leave you laid up unable to exercise!

Stretching is Important

Stretching is important to balance the tension that is created in your muscles when you use them. When you are running you are contracting and shortening your muscles – stretching after exercise lengthens the muscles again.

If you’re running regularly and increasing your distance your muscles could be getting tighter than usual as you increase their load. Are you getting by without too much stretching currently? As you increase all other areas of your running training, you should also increase your running stretches at the same time.

Below are some stretches that are good for running training at all levels.

Calf Stretching

There are two stretches for the calf – one with the leg straight which stretches the muscle called the Gastrocnemius. This is the muscle we can easily see on the calf area. The second stretch I am showing you is the same as before but with the knee bent. This stretches the Soleus muscle which is underneath and does not cross the knee. You will feel the second stretch lower in the calf and closer to the ankle. You may find that you need to bring the back foot closer to the front foot. This effectively bends the knee and obtains a good stretch.

ITB Rolling

It’s not easy to stretch the Iliotibial Band (ITB) as it doesn’t cross a joint that bends in that direction. The best way to loosen this tendon is to roll it out on a foam roller. You want to roll from the top of the thigh to the knee. Be careful not to go over the knee joint or the bony area at the top of the leg. When you first start using the foam roll it can be uncomfortable, however, if you persist it does become easier.

Plantar Fascia Rolling

Does the bottom of your foot feel tight or sore when you run? This could be excess tension in your Plantar Fascia. You can use a small ball to roll from just below the toes to the front of the heel. As with the ITB rolling this can initially be quite uncomfortable, but persistence will ease any discomfort you feel. Another option if you are experiencing pain – put a bottle of water in the freezer and roll your foot on that. This will help reduce any inflammation in the foot as well.

Hamstring Stretch

The Hamstrings are the muscles at the back of your thigh. They attach from the bottom of your pelvis across the knee to the top of your calf. Tight hamstrings could contribute to knee pain or low back pain. Hamstrings can get tight through day-to-day activities or long periods of sitting. Place the heel up on a higher surface. In the picture I’m using a chair but if your hamstrings are tight, a step or stair is plenty high enough. Bend at the hip towards your foot. Taking care to keep your back straight will increase the effectiveness of the stretch.

Hip Flexor Stretches

As with the hamstrings, the Hip Flexors can get tight from long periods of sitting. Stretching them can help lengthen your stride as you’ll have more hip extension. When you do this stretch make sure you tuck your bottom under to keep the muscle stretched. Keep your back straight. If you arch your back it shortens the muscle slightly and you won’t get the full benefit of the stretch. You will feel the stretch in the front of the groin area.

Get Running, Get Stretching

These are a few stretches that can help keep your muscles flexible during your training. When stretching make sure you only feel a gentle pull in the muscle and not to the point of pain. Hold the stretch for a count of 20 and then swap to the other side. If you feel the need to stretch for longer go back and forth between each side. Enjoy your running and stay injury free!

Find Out More

If you have sustained an injury or are in pain it is advisable to seek help from your healthcare practitioner. If you would like to find out if Chiropractic care could help you, please feel free to call for more information: 07582 907702 or contact us using the contact form.

 

 

 

 

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