Stretching the key running muscles is vital if you want to maintain or increase running speed. Running is an impact sports and the more you run the more your muscles get rigid and tired. When the muscles get rigid and tired they contract and relax at a slower pace. The slower contraction and relaxation leads to slower running times. The problems can be fixed by taking a rest, massage and stretching.
How Stretching Makes You A Faster Runner
Doing regular stretching exercises after your running work outs will make you steadily more elastic, flexible, faster and mobile. Stretching increases the blood flow to muscles and helps to keep the body limber. Not only will it aid in maintaining running speed, stretching also helps prevent injuries such as muscle pulls and strains. Stretching after exercise can be just as important, as it helps clear lactic acid from the muscles and prevent soreness.
Key Muscles Every Runner Should Stretch If He/She Wants To Run Faster
The best stretches for runners tend to focus on the muscles involved during running. Stretching this muscles will aid in power transfer and improve your running speed.
The stomach muscles in the gluts are activated during running. These are stretched by lying flat on your back and pulling your knees toward the opposite side of your body. Perform for 10 seconds each side.
It’s important to stretch your back muscles too, since your back must take a lot of strain when running. Stretch your lower back by doing lying knee roll-over stretches. Lie on your back with your arms stretched out from the shoulder. Place your palms flat on the floor. Bend your knees and place your feet flat on the floor. Hold your knees together and then allow them to rotate all the way to the floor on the right. Keep your pelvis and torso as straight as possible. Bring your knees back to the center and then let them fall to the left side of your body.
To stretch the hamstring, Stand up-right and then place your heal on the ground 2 feet from your body. Bend into the extended leg, place your hand on your knee and tilt your upper body forward until you feel a slight pain in the back of the extended leg, the hamstring.
Stand up and place the front of your foot in your hand by swinging your leg backwards. Now pull this foot towards your gluteus to feel a stretch on the frontal area of that leg.
Abductor and hip stretches (Groin)
Place your feet 1 meter apart and parallel to each other. Now with your hands on your waist lean to the left side and feel the stretch on the inside on the inside of your right leg. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat the opposite side
Calf muscle stretch
Place the top of your foot on an object approximately 2 inches height. Bend your knee forward while keeping your heel on the ground. Lean your body into the knee for even more of a stretch! Hold for 10 seconds each time.
Calf and Achilles Tendon
Stretching your calf muscle and Achilles tendon can help prevent painful strains. You don’t want to be in the middle of running work out and have to to walk back to the house due to a sharp pain in your calf or a torn Achilles tendon. Stretch your calf and Achilles tendon by placing your left hand on a wall for balance. Tighten up your abdominal muscles and lean forward slightly. Step forward with your left foot. Keep your left heel on the floor and continue to lean forward gently and slowly. Switch legs and repeat. Hold the stretch for about 15 seconds or longer on each side.
Butt Muscles / Gluteus Maximus
To stretch your gluteus maximus or butt muscles. Lie on your back with your hands at your sides, palms down. Bend both knees until your shins are at a 90-degree angle and parallel to the floor. Place your right ankle on top of your right knee so that your knee is pointed outward toward your right. Place your right palm on your right knee and gently push your knee away from your body. Stop when you feel your right buttock stretch. Repeat on the other side.
How To Stretch Safely and avoid injury
- When you stretch a muscle, stretch it to the point where you feel a sense of discomfort. Do not wait until you feel pain as that could lead to injury.
- Focus on one muscle group at a time.
- Hold a stretch for approximately fifteen to twenty seconds. When you feel your muscle give a little extend the stretch a little further and hold for the same amount of time. It is important that you repeat each movement a minimum of two times.
- Exhale while stretching. After you’re done keeping the stretch, you should inhale as you re-assume a relaxed pose.
Stretching by athletes has been scientifically proven to be safe
Although some coaches are against stretching, the latest research on stretching have concluded it is safe and good for athletes if done properly. In a report, published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, researchers reviewed more than 100 studies of stretching and concluded that the “detrimental effects of static stretch are mainly limited to longer duration” poses, meaning stretches that last for at least a minute. If you hold a particular stretch for a shorter period, the authors wrote, particularly for less than 30 seconds, you should experience “no detrimental effect.”
Other studies came to similar conclusions. Another study, published in The European Journal of Applied Physiology, found that “a substantial number” of the experiments did not find “detrimental effects associated with prior static stretching,” especially if the stretches were “of short duration” or were stopped before “the point of discomfort.” And a new study of well-trained female collegiate runners undertaken at Florida State University and published in The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, showed that a static-stretching routine consisting of five leg-muscle stretches, each held for 30 seconds and repeated four times, “did not have an adverse effect” on the women’s performance in a timed treadmill running test.