We all agree stretchy things are good right? There's the yummy cheese that stretches as you pull a slice of pizza off the pan. There's socks that stretch over our feet. And, there's stretchy pants to fit over and conform to our bodies when we're too bloated from eating to put on jeans.
When it comes to our muscles as runners, it's good for them to be stretchy to allow for better range of motion and less chance of getting injured. So, when are the best times to stretch and how should we do it?
There are two types of stretching I want to cover, dynamic and static. I may not have even heard of dynamic stretching until I started running in college. Dynamic stretching is done with movement and should be done prior to a workout or run. You should do 5-10 minutes worth of slow jogging or quick walking before beginning dynamic stretches to warm up your muscles. There are quite a few different dynamic stretches you can do; here is a link to eight different dynamic stretches: www.active.com/running/articles/8-dynamic-stretches-for-runners Choose stretches that target the major parts of your body: calves, quads, hamstrings, hips, back, shoulders, and neck. Once you pick the ones you want to do, make a routine and stick with it.
Static stretching is stretching done without movement, holding certain types of stretches for a period of time. Static stretching should be done after a workout or run when the muscles are warm. Static stretching will help to lengthen the muscles and improve flexibility. Again, there are lots of different types of static stretches to choose from, pick stretches that focus on the major parts of the body: calves, quads, hamstrings, hips, back, and shoulders. Check out the following link to view different static stretching videos:
Some of you may be thinking, "I verily have enough time to fit my run in, how am I going to add stretching?" You don't need to spend a lot of time stretching. If you can take 5-10 minutes to do dynamic and the same for static, do it. If you can only get one in or the other, rotate it; do dynamic before one run and do static after another. If you have intervals or a tempo run scheduled, try and do both types of stretching. Whatever time you can put into stretching, I think you'll reap the benefits that come with it.