When you incorporate a warmup and cool down into a running workout, you get three big benefits, says Gold’s Gym Fitness Expert Andy Coggan.
- You increase your range of motion.
- You decrease your chance of injury.
- You create more permanent change in your muscles.
Before going on a run, it’s important to stretch the muscles of the lower body, but don’t forget to include your postural and upper-body muscles.
Your pre- and post-run stretches can be short and to the point. You don’t need to spend more than 10 minutes warming up and cooling down. Start gradually before getting to full speed.
Go through these stretches before running. Hold them for 20–30 seconds on each side. When you finish running, repeat the stretches.
- Calf stretch: Place the front of your foot on a curb or similar object, and then push your heel down and lean forward. Try adjusting the angle of your foot to stretch the inner and outer portions of the calf more effectively.
- Hamstring stretch: From a seated or standing position, bend forward to touch your toes or reach as far down as possible. Use both arms together, or to engage your hips and back a bit more, try reaching with one arm at a time.
- Quad stretch: Find an object to lean on for balance and hold on as you bend your knee to bring your foot up behind you. Hold your foot with your hand, pressing your foot into your body and squeezing your glute to increase the stretch.
- Hip flexor stretch: Kneel on one knee with your opposite leg in front. Lean forward with your hips, driving your knee as far beyond your toes as you can while keeping your chest up and back straight.
- Piriformis stretch: Lie on your back, and then bend one leg and cross it over the other so that your ankle rests on the thigh of your opposite leg. From this position, grab the back of your thigh and pull to stretch the crossed leg.
- Back stretch: Kneel on both legs, sit back onto your heels and then drop your chest to the ground, reaching your arms over your head as high as possible. Try reaching with one arm and rotating to the side a bit to really stretch out the lat muscle on each side.