How to Maximize your Run

Stretching. A word usually associated with dancers, gymnasts and yogis is also arguably the most important regimen to any running workout. It’s important for your body to be prepared, mentally and physically, for whatever workout is ahead. Instead of looking at warming up as something you have to do before a run, look at it as part of the run. Hockey has three periods, and so does your run: dynamic stretching, running and static stretching. Each part is important, and without one, your workout is not complete.

The difference between dancers and runners is that the former only performs static stretching, which are stretch exercises that are held for a length of time to extend muscles and increase flexibility. This kind of stretching can actually cause injury when used incorrectly. For runners, dynamic stretching is proven to increase performance. It is proven that runners who perform dynamic stretching before a run, versus those who don’t stretch at all can run for up to three minutes longer.

It’s most important to get your muscles warm before a rigorous run. Pre-running stretching gets blood flowing and lubricates joints and muscles, which help to avoid injury. Taking 5-10 minutes before a run to perform dynamic stretching exercises can help you maximize your run. Some dynamic stretching moves to try include: high knees, butt kicks, and swinging one leg back and forth while holding onto a sturdy object for stabilization.

Static stretching should be done for 5-10 minutes directly following your run. This helps remove the lactic acid that builds up in muscles during a workout. Some tips for static stretching include: hold each stretch for 15-20 seconds, remember to stretch both sides equally, and remember to breath; your muscles need oxygen! You should stretch your muscles so there is slight discomfort, but never to the point of pain.

Muscles, ligaments and tendons are the tissues that our bodies use to move. Over a period of time, these muscles become short and tight, which reduce your range of motion and put you at a higher risk for injury. Stretching should be an exercise performed on a regular basis. It increases overall flexibility, athletic performance, and reduces the chance of injury. By knowing when to use dynamic stretching exercises, and when to uses static stretching exercises, your body will be ready for any run!

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