Stretching and Warming up for Running

Stretching and warming up are an important part of running, as the risk of injury is lower when your muscles are in shape.

Many beginner runners are too eager to run. Bad things might happen if you forget to warmup and stretch. It’s also worth remembering to do have muscle training in your weekly schedule.

1. Warmup

Some runners believe stretching and warming up are synonymous. But no, they are not.

Warming up is a transition from your resting heart rate to your training heart rate – slowly.

You can walk or jog for a few minutes to achieve this.

Some people also refer to this stage as a cardiovascular warmup. This is very important for people who are unfit and out of shape.

If you are out of shape, consult your doctor before taking on any exercise program.

Research has shown that a good warmup can improve muscle efficiency. It increases your muscular elasticity and flexibility, which will also help prevent strains. After you have warmed up, it is a good idea to stretch.

2. Stretching

Stretching, its benefits are debatable. It is not necessary to stretch before a run. If desired, you can do short stretches during the initial warmup to prepare the muscles to circulate for future stress.

Some argue that they have never stretched and had never been injured. Some swear they have never been injured because they stretch.

Either way, if you do stretch, it should occur before your workout but after your warmup.

Perhaps you could walk, stretch, jog and then run.

Stretch just as you start to sweat. Then you know your muscles are warm and ready for the work. This will help prevent you from damaging/straining your muscles too.

When stretching, move far enough to reach discomfort, but no pain. Hold the final position for 30 seconds and repeat 3 times.

You may also be interested to know that running will cause inflexibility as your muscles will shorten and become tight.

Therefore, to maintain a healthy lifestyle, stretch as often as possible. If you’ve thought about it already, perhaps take up yoga.

Here you can find some easy to do stretches for runners.

3. Cooldown

We often neglect an important part of running that is the cooldown. It is less time consuming than the warm-up and easier too.

After running, walk for a few minutes, and then repeat the stretches you did to warm up. If practical, walk for a few more minutes after.

If you have done a fast or long run, I would recommend light exercise later in the day to aid recovery as this practice will help carry waste products away from the muscles and keep blood pumping which reduces soreness.

Closure

It is understandable that it is not always practical to do these exercises, they can take a lot of time.

Start your run slowly if you miss out on a warmup or stretching, preferably for the first 2 miles.

However, the cooldown is a must. Even if it’s just walking for 5 minutes.

Stretching and warming up will help prevent injury and improve your running experience, so invest as much time in it as possible. 

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