Stretching. SO very important. It prevents injury. Before a run or any work-out in general, as well as post excercise, you need to stretch.
-Before a run, your muscles are "cold". You need to loosen them up for a more fluid run, thus preventing injuries.
-You will be less sore and stiff after wards.
-It helps your joints to have full range of motion.
-It increases blood flow to your muscles.
Need some more convincing? Read on...
Risks Of NOT Stretching:
-An excellent example; if your achillies tendon is tight and lacks flexibility, and you do not stretch it pre-run, over time your risk of tendinitis and tendinopathy increase greatly. Especially while walking or running up hill.
Remember, keep your stretching safe. Focus on major muscle groups. Such as shouldars, hips, thighs, ect. If you stretch the left hamstring, be sure to do the same to the right hamstring.
Don't bounce as this can cause small tears in the muscles, which in turn leave scar tissue as it heals. This will cause pain and muscle stiffness. So, be sure to hold each stretch for 30 seconds. Your focus of stretching is not to burn calories, it is to prevent injury and create flexibilty.
Expect to feel tension while stretching, not pain.
Like running, stretching needs consistency to see results.
Stretching does not need to be mundane. Tai-chi is also benificial way to loosen up your muscles.
Remember, approach any physical activity with care. If you have a chronic condition-speak with your practioner first. Especially if you already have pain.
Here are some helpful pictures of pre and post run stretches. These are the ones that I use.
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-The Restless Runner