Even with gym memberships and various fitness classes, running is still one of the most popular ways to exercise. So much so to where 75% of male and female runners said they run to stay in shape.
There are many benefits of running. It’s free, you need no prior experience, and you can lace up your shoes and get going!
But wait, are we missing something? We are! Runners should have a stretching routine. It’s no surprise that you feel better and faster when you stretch. That’s because there are many benefits to stretching. Here, we will cover some of the key ones.
Better for Your Muscles
When you run, you’re working many muscles — specifically in your lower body. These include the hamstrings, glutes, and quads. Running will also work your core muscles, such as the rectus abdominus and the obliques.
Stretching your muscles will help keep them strong, flexible, and enhances the range of motion in your joints. When running, focus on the specific muscles that we mentioned. You’ll be able to run faster and farther, conquering your fitness goals.
We briefly mentioned this in the last section, but it’s important to emphasize the importance of flexibility for runners.
Flexibility refers to the range of motion in a joint or a group of joints. Better flexibility will improve your running performance, enhancing your mobility.
However, you’ll get the best benefits when you stretch regularly. How often should you stretch? Before and after your run is recommended. Be sure to stretch all of the muscle groups you use when running and hold the stretch for 10-30 seconds. You should also stretch on the days you don’t run, which we will go over more in another section.
Prepares You for Your Run
We mentioned in the last section that you should stretch before running. That’s because stretching will prepare your muscles and joints for the run. In addition, stretching is a good warm-up.
Warm-ups are integral because this process increases blood flow to your muscles and revs up your cardiovascular system. All of this will result in fewer injuries and reduced muscle soreness, ensuring you can continue your run.
Stretching also prepares your brain for your workout. When you stretch certain muscle groups, your brain knows to focus on those muscles when you’re running.
Calms Your Body After a Run
If we stretched before a run, why should we stretch after? Stretching is also the best cool-down method.
Cool-down is the process of calming your body after a workout, bringing your heart rate and blood pressure down to normal levels as well as regulating blood flow. All of these efforts combined will increase blood flow, delivering nutrients to the muscles that will aid in recovery.
But you shouldn’t simply stretch the same way you did before a workout. Work on deep breathing while you stretch. This will help you boost oxygen levels.
Can Help in Your Daily Life
Movement goes beyond running. We walk when we’re grocery shopping, go to the park with our kids, and will stroll downtown or on the beach with friends. Many people also have physical jobs that require them to walk and do heavy lifting throughout their workday.
While it doesn’t seem like a lot, we do move throughout the day. Since stretching improves your mobility, you will find these small, everyday movements easier.
Decreases Your Risk of Injury
As you get your stretching techniques down, your risk of injury will be reduced significantly. The process of stretching before a run will warm up your joints, muscles, and tendons.
You not only will have excellent mobility but will have better body positioning. A better range of motion will prevent your body from relying too much on your knees and back, which can lead to an injury.
Reduces Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS)
Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) is the muscle pain you feel after any workout, and you can feel these effects after running. We also get muscle soreness from doing daily activities, such as sitting for long periods of time.
If you don’t stretch, your muscles will shorten. This will cause them to feel tight and painful. Simple daily activities will be more difficult and you’ll struggle to get back into running.
In addition to stretching before and after running, you should also stretch on your days off. You should focus on every muscle group, holding the stretch for 10-30 seconds while deep breathing.
Evens Out the Body
Have you ever had the sensation where one leg gets tired quicker than the other when you’re running? Bodily imbalances like these are normal. This usually occurs when one muscle is tighter or is generally weaker than the other.
Fortunately, stretching before a run can improve this. You can stretch out those joints and muscles, elongating and strengthening them before they lead to an injury.
An Essential Form of Self-Care
Even if you don’t run multiple times a week, stretching is a form of self-care. This simple act restores not only the body but the mind, as well.
Stretching helps you feel connected to your body. When you do deep breathing exercises plus stretches, you’ll release pent-up emotions. Therefore, your mental health will improve and you’ll be more motivated for your runs.
With all of this said, stretching is relaxing on both the body and the mind. And there’s a science behind it. Stretching activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which alleviates stress. When paired with deep breathing, you may be able to reduce chronic stress, which may limit your desire to run.
There Are Many Benefits to Stretching
Stretching is an integral part of any fitness routine, especially running. Not only that, but stretching is something beneficial that we all should be doing daily.
Now that you know the benefits to stretching, it’s time to take your workout to the next level. What makes our training and classes stand out? We exercise outside, which improves your mood and increases energy.
We offer fitness classes and personal training in The Hamptons and Port Jeff, NY, and we’re adding even more locations. Click here to select your location and sign up for a fitness class.