If you’re a runner, it’s likely that you have experienced some sort of discomfort, ache or pain along the way. In fact, it has been reported that as many as 90% of runners miss training time each year due to injuries. Fortunately, running pains are not necessarily an inevitability. A good warmup prior to exercising loosens up your body and gets the blood flowing, gradually raising your heart rate to make it easier to get into a good rhythm. Dynamic stretching before a run has been shown to help with poor posture, faulty running mechanics and injury prevention. It can also work wonders in terms of improving your range of motion. If you experience aches and pains during or after your run, try these stretching exercises to help combat the likelihood of injury and give yourself a little peace of mind so you can run longer and stronger!
Where You’ll Feel It: Pecs and Mid Back
Lie on your side, bend both knees up toward your chest and place your bottom hand on top of your knees. Place your top arm out in front, reach up toward the ceiling and continue the rotation as far as possible. Hold for 2-3 seconds. Allow your head and chest to follow. Return to the starting position and perform 10 times each side.
Where You’ll Feel It: Hamstrings and Hip Flexors
Swing your leg forward as high as you can and as far back as you can with controlled speed while keeping your knee straight and trunk upright. Perform 10 times on each leg.
Where You’ll Feel It: Thigh and Hip Flexor
Stand on one leg, grab your opposite ankle and pull your foot towards your butt. Keep your standing leg straight and the heel on the floor. Reach overhead with your other arm. Make sure that your bent knee is directly under your hip. (Optional – you can lift your heel and come up onto your toes). Don’t let your back arch. Hold for 3 seconds. Perform 10 times on each side.
Where You’ll Feel It: Glutes, Not Your Back!
Place a mini band around your knees. Start on your hands and knees. Align your hands directly under your shoulders and your knees directly under your hips. Engage your core by lightly bringing your belly button closer to the spine. Keep your core engaged and lift the right knee back like a kick. Think about kicking your heel towards the ceiling but avoid arching your back or twisting your hips. Perform 10 times on each side.
Where You’ll Feel It: Core and Glutes
Lie on your side with your body and your legs in a straight line (like you are in a toaster slot). Bend the bottom of your knee 90 degrees and keep the top knee straight. Draw your belly button in towards your spine and engage your abs. Lift your hips up towards the ceiling, keeping your elbow stacked underneath your shoulders. While holding the plank position, bend your knee toward your chest and straight out to starting position (mimic running). Perform 10 times on each side.
Where You’ll Feel It: Glutes
Place a mini band around your ankles. Engage your core by lightly bringing your belly button closer to the spine to maintain a neutral lumbar spine. March your knee up to hip level, pause for 1-2 seconds and then return to the starting position. Focus on slow, controlled movement. Drive the standing leg straight by squeezing your gluteal muscles. Perform 10 times on each side.
Where You’ll Feel It: Glutes / Outer Hips
Stand in a semi-squat position with your feet hip-width apart and a mini band around your ankles. While always keeping tension in the band, take small steps to the left (Your stance should not be wider than your shoulders at any point). Focus on pushing off the trailing leg vs. reaching with the lead leg. Keep your knees pushed apart and your toes pointed straight forward. Repeat while moving to the right. Perform 10 steps to each side.