If you read my previous post about getting started with running, then read on for some more important tips on stretching and recovery!
So, you have started running. You started slow, set small goals, and you're absolutely crushing it. You started mixing in some cross training and you are beginning to feel strong, like you can run faster and harder for a longer period. Awesome job! That's what happens when you exercise regularly and eat to fuel your body properly. Now that you are in a great routine, it is a good time to add in some pre- and post-run stretching.
Do some light jogging for a few minutes, then do some of the following dynamic warm ups. A dynamic warm up is important because it helps your body transition from rest to activity without creating unnecessary stress on the body. It helps improve your range of motion as well as improves blood flow to muscles.
Place your hand on a chair or wall (something stable for balance), lift your leg up in front of you. When you bring it back down, use momentum to swing it behind you. Continue using momentum back and forth for 10 reps on each side.
Side Leg Swings
Swing One leg as far across your body as is comfortable while keeping it straight. Then using momentum, swing it out to your side. Continue this back and forth motion for 10 reps on each side.
Step one foot in front of you and lower into a lunge. Your front knee should be behind your toes and your back knee should be at a 90 degree angle. Push up using your front heel and glutes to standing and bring your back leg forward to repeat on the other side. Continue the walking lunge for 10-12 reps.
Body Weight Squats
Stand with feet hip width apart. Lower hips down like you are going to sit in a chair. Once knees reach 90 degrees, use heels, hamstrings and glutes to power back up. Knees should never be in front of your toes when doing this exercise. Keep your back straight andyour chin up. Aim for 10-15 reps.
These are just a few suggestions of exercises to add to your dynamic warm up. There are plenty of others out there like butt kicks, donkey kicks, glute bridges, A-skips and jumping jacks to name a few!
Immediately after your workout, be sure to do some static stretching to continue to improve flexibility and avoid muscle tension post run. Be sure you are still warm from your run before you do this.
Hip Flexor Stretch
Kneel on your left knee with your front leg at a 90-degree angle in front of you. Lean forward at the hips so you can feel a nice stretch along the front of the hip/leg that is on the ground. Hold for 30 seconds and then repeat on the other side.
From plank position, bring left knee between arms and set it on the ground so your knee is near your left hand and your foot is near your right hand. Sink hips into this stretch and hold for 30 seconds, repeat on other side.
Low Back Stretch
From hands and knees, drop your hips down until your glutes rest on your heels. Bring your chest down to the floor and extend your arms in front of you. Hold for 30 seconds.
Lying Hamstring Stretch
Lay on your back, bend left knee and place left foot on the floor. Pull your right leg towards you. Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat on other side.
Give these a try post run and see how you feel. There are plenty of other exercises you could add in such as a calf stretch, quad stretch, IT band stretch, or a low back stretch.