Stretching your muscles every day helps stimulate blood flow and increase mobility
By Nicole Ganglani | Photo by Alora Griffiths/Unsplash
Running is a physically demanding sport that requires you to have a deep understanding of your muscles. Stretching your muscles regularly is a must to stimulate blood flow, reset your posture, improve your flexibility, and increase your mobility. The four key muscles that every runner must stretch are the tight muscles, the calf muscles, the lower back, and the neck and arms.
Stretching your muscles every day also helps you avoid injuries, increase your range of motion, and even helps you recover from (and even avoid) Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS). The best part about stretching is that you can do it anywhere and any time of the day. Here are five basic stretches you can do:
Shoulder shrug stretches help fix your posture and reduce the tension in your trapezius muscles. Aside from preventing stiff arms and neck, it also strengthens your rotator cuff and helps strengthen and stabilize your neck—which improves both strength and balance.
The hip circle increases hip mobility, loosens the hip flexors and hamstrings, and at the same time works out the core. The hip flexors are made of muscles and tendons located on the front of your hip joint which are also connected to your legs and pelvis. Hip circles can help you improve your running technique and can get you stronger and faster.
Squats are one of—if not the best—strength training exercises for runners because it targets a lot of running-specific muscles, specifically the calves, quadriceps, hamstrings, hips, and glutes. It’s known to directly improve running performance especially on uneven terrains since it’s a multi-joint exercise that powers your stride.
The quadriceps stretch helps improve flexibility and blood circulation, boost energy, and reduces the possibility of knee injuries. Stretching your quadriceps is an effective way to release tension and stiffness in your knees especially before running.
Lunges target the quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes, helping you boost your sprinting speed. It also helps your stabilize your muscles (for balance and coordination), increases stride length, and helps prevent ankle sprains and injuries.
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