Race training: When and how to stretch

Are you stretching properly so that you get the most from your runs?

While there has been discussion in recent years about the value of stretching, the combination of dynamic and static stretching, when done properly, can help increase flexibility, improve performance and reduce the risk of injury. Consider investing in a foam roller for additional benefits from stretching.

Dynamic stretching

Dynamic stretching should be done as part of your warmup, before running or other exercise. It involves repetitive movement and should mimic what your body does during exercise. Dynamic stretching helps your muscles become more elastic and relaxed, and prepares your joints for movement. This increases range of motion and flexibility, reducing chances of injury.

Examples include high marching in place and heel-to-buttocks kicks.

Static stretching

Static stretches are designed for flexibility and to help you cool down after exercising when you are standing still. These are best done after your run or other workout. With static stretches, focus on relaxing the part of the body you are stretching and letting the stretch go further on its own. Holding the position without bouncing or forcing the stretch for 30 to 60 seconds can help increase flexibility in the tissue.

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Examples include quadriceps, hamstring and Achilles stretches.

Foam rollers

Foam rollers can be a valuable part of your warmup and cool down. Using a foam roller improves circulation, which gets your body ready for a workout and helps it recover afterward. They are designed to help relieve overworked muscles through soft-tissue therapy, or myofascial release, providing the same type of benefits as deep-tissue massage. Rolling helps prevent injury and improve performance through increased flexibility and decreased muscle tension. Rolling also breaks down knots that can limit your range of motion and gets muscles ready to stretch.


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