There has been a lot of controversy about the benefits of stretching prior to working out. So let’s try to clarify some things:
Before the workout – Dynamic stretches are beneficial. These are more sport specific movements using momentum and muscle contractions to achieve the stretch. Gentle lunges, arm circles and step overs are examples. These exercises can increase the blood flow to your muscles, warm up your body and loosen up your joints. Spend a few minutes prior to your run doing high leg lifts, butt kicks or jumping jacks. Get set…go!
Research actually shows that static stretching before a workout can inhibit the muscles from contracting powerfully. We want your muscles to react quickly, not more slowly.
The run down: Start slow for the first 10% of your workout and steadily ramp up. This tactic allows your muscles to warm up so you can go the distance…without wasting time and energy stretching.
After the workout – Static stretches are beneficial. These are the stretches we are all used to – holding a deep stretch in one position. Tissue kneading and a gentle self massage will go a long way to reduce lactic acid build up and reduce delayed onset muscle soreness (that soreness that you feel 1-2 days after the workout).
Terrain: Running on a track provides shock absorption which in turn reduces the compressive forces on your ankles, knees, hips and back. For those new to running, start on a track working your way up to dirt trails, asphalt and finally, concrete.
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