- The health of your heart and lungs.
- Your energy and stress levels.
- The tone and strength of your leg and hip muscles.
- Your bone density (reduces the risk of osteoporosis).
Get checked by a health professional, such as a chiropractor, before starting a running program to make sure it is an appropriate fitness activity for you. Then start out slowly to allow your body to warm up and stretch out after you stop. These five stretches target the major muscle groups that are used when running. Don’t unlace without them.
- Never stretch a cold muscle.
- Hold each stretch for a slow count of 30.
- Repeat twice on each side.
- Don’t overstretch – be comfortable.
- Don’t bounce when stretching.
If you suffer an injury or experience pain that lasts longer than your usual post-workout soreness, ice the area to reduce swelling and inflammation, and consult a chiropractor.
Stretch your arms in front of you and place both hands on a sturdy object. Stand with feet comfortably apart, toes pointing towards the wall. Put one leg back about 12 inches from the other, keeping the knee straight and your foot flat on the ground. Bend the knee of the front leg so your hips move forward and lean into your hands.
Adopt the same position as for the upper calf stretch. Shift the foot of your back leg forward until the toes are just behind the heel of the front leg. Keep both heels on the ground with toes pointing forward. Lower your hips by bending both knees.
Front of Thigh
Stand near a wall, bench or a post and put one hand on it for balance. Grasp your ankle or foot with the other hand. Keep your upper body straight and pull your heel up towards your buttock. The knee of the leg you are bending should point towards the ground. If you are able to touch your buttock with the heel of the foot, gently extend the hip by moving the knee backwards.
Back of Thigh
Place one foot up on a low surface about knee high with your hands on the thigh. Keep the knee of this leg straight with the toes pointing forward. Bend forward from the hips – not the waist. Keep your lower back flat by bringing your chest towards your knee rather than your head.
From the back thigh stretch position, bend your front knee so that your foot is now on the edge of the surface. Hands on hips, lean slightly forward over the bent leg. Keep the leg you are standing on straight.