Did you know that it isn’t a good idea to stretch before you run? True story. Stretching cold muscles can lead to muscle strains and tears. That is exactly the last thing you want if you are a runner. Or, really, anybody. A lot of people are unaware that stretching un-warmed up muscles is dangerous, because we’ve always been told that stretching is a good thing. Stretching is a good thing, as long as it is done properly and at the right time. I warm up and stretch in a way that has been recommended to me time and time again… by serious runners, track coaches and physical therapists. So, here’s my routine:
I walk for about 5 minutes before I run. Some days, I just walk at a good clip. Most days, though, I do a little series of warm up exercises while I walk… and I usually start these after I’ve walked for about 3 minutes. I do about 20 steps each of the following:
- High steps/knee ups/whatever you want to call them
- Straight leg kicks to the front
- Butt kicks
- Walk on my tip toes
- Walk on my heels
- Skips… jumping as high as I can with each step
And then, I run.
After running is when I do my stretching. I get myself a big glass of chocolate milk (with Hershey’s Special Dark Syrup, obvi) and do some yoga stretches. There is a sequence that I found on FitSugar years ago. Of course I can no longer find that video. I don’t know enough about yoga to tell you the names of the poses… but I know there’s some downward dog, some warrior & some pigeon involved. I also do some calf stretches and some quad stretches. And then, I call it a day.
To sum it up: don’t stretch before running. Walking for a few minutes is enough. Stretch after.