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Runners: Stay Injury-Free with a Good Stretch

POSTED BY: Florida Hospital

Running is a great way to feel whole. It can help improve your heart health, reduce stress and strengthen your bones and muscles. The benefits of this sport extend to your spiritual health, too. Communities of runners come together for road races, events, and training sessions — giving you opportunities to forge new friendships and make connections.

Races around your neighborhood — including the popular Gasparilla marathon — can add a healthy dose of fun and competition to your training. In the hustle to get out the door for your daily run or start your next workout, it can be easy to overlook one important training step: stretching. Regular stretching before and after your run helps improve your performance and reduces your risk of getting injured.

Warm up Before You Run

Tight muscles are more prone to injury. Gentle stretching and an adequate warm-up can help loosen your muscles and prepare your body for running. Regular stretching can also help improve your form, making you a more efficient (and better) runner.

Spend a few minutes loosening muscles before you head out on your next run. Warm up by:

  • Walking the length of your street
  • Doing a few short, gentle stretches
    • Bend over and touch your toes
    • Gently stretch calf muscles
  • Loosening arms and your neck by swinging arms in a circle and doing a few neck and shoulder rolls.
  • Gently shaking out legs and arms or run in place for a few seconds

When speedwork is on your training calendar, add a few minutes of light running before you stretch or start your workout.

Cool Down After You Run

Stretching after your run can help relax muscles and keep you from feeling sore. Do a round of gentle stretches, holding each one for 20 to 30 seconds. Try these stretches to help cool down and keep your body injury free after a run:

  • Hamstring stretch – Lay on your back and gently pull one leg toward you.
  • Groin stretch – Hold your feet and use leg muscles to move knees to the ground. Do not force knees to touch the ground if you can’t; instead keep a straight back and stretch until you feel a mild pull.
  • Iliotibial band stretch – Cross one foot over the other with both feet flat on the ground. Lean hips to your rear foot while keeping both legs straight.

Reach Your Peak

We understand the important role regular physical activity like running can play in your physical, emotional and spiritual health. Our certified physical therapists are here with direct access programs to help develop a customized plan to help you improve your performance, recover from injury and avoid future issues.

Call (855) 303-DOCS to get started on your active path to whole health.