We can’t stress enough the importance of a good stretch before any exercise – it helps to minimise any risk of injury as your joints, muscles and tendons are warmed up and ready to go. Starting an exercise, like running, without prepping with a stretch can result in some nasty pulls and tears, and nobody wants that! You’ll often find that going into a run without stretching first also means you lack your usual pace and longevity, which not only means you’re not getting the most of of your workout, but it can be a demotivate and discouragement, making you less likely to put on your running shoes consistently.
But, even before you get into stretching, a good pre-stretch warm up is to take a brisk walk to get your joints used to movement. 5 minutes or so to take your body through the range of motion, with a 2 minute jog added when necessary, will get your muscles fired up and ready to go.
The key to stretching after you’ve warmed up is to keep it dynamic. Try to avoid static stretches where you hold a muscle for a long period of time. Instead we’ll be focusing on controlled, moving stretches for the legs.
So with that said, lets take a look at 4 simple but effective stretches you can do to warm up pre-run:
Start out by standing with your legs shoulder-width apart in a parallel position, keeping a neutral good posture. Bend your left knee before lunging forward onto your right foot. Ensure your right knee doesn’t bed past the toes but aim to go as far as you are comfortable. Then, without locking the knee, straighten your back leg. Increase the stretch as much as you feel comfortable by lowering your hips. Keep the hold for a few seconds before stepping to a lunge with the opposite leg.
Leg Extensor Stretch
Stand tall and straight with good posture, bend your left knee behind you. Bring your heel towards your gluteus before swinging your left arm forward and your right arm back. Repeat this on the opposite side, while aiming for about 10 per side.
Leg Flexor Stretch
Stand with your fee parallel before extending your left arm forward whilst bending your right knee in front of you at 90 degrees. You should aim to extend your calf so that it is in line with your leg, straight and parallel to the ground. Try to thoroughly engage your quads whilst extending, and then return to the original position before repeating with the opposite leg.
Plantar Flexor Stretch
Start with your hands on your hips, then lift your left leg off the ground slightly whilst ensuring your knee is straight and aligned with the leg. Keep your toes pointed straight out in line with the knee before reversing the flex by pointing the toes upward before returning to the original position. Repeat the motion on the opposite leg, aiming for 10 movements on each leg in total.