Running: Stretching To Improve Your Running Pt.1

Stretching To Improve Your Running Pt.1

For years now, people and professionals have been advocates of stretching before an exercise routine or a physical event, but we have noticed that many recreational athletes make the same mistake over and over again, when it comes to stretching in general.

Should I stretch before running?

Here is what we typically see:

Athlete 1: Does 10 static stretches for 2 reps holding 30 seconds each and then runs all out

Athlete 2: Does  yoga any chance they get since it will make them more flexible and “prevent” them from getting tight.

By now you’re probably wondering “what I’m getting at?”. We are not against stretching before a run, if it’s done correctly!

Physiologically speaking, certain performance goals require a specific amount of stiffness and is quite normal in athletes. For those aiming to hit new speeds or to produce power, stiffness is needed. Let’s try a quick activity to understand the importance of stiffness in performance.

Take a rubber band and hold it at both ends so that it is loose and has no tension, pull it lightly.

Now do the same thing but this time stretch the rubber band so that it has tension, now pull it down the middle.

Which of the two methods had a good return of power? The one with tension, right? Our muscles have the same properties. Without the proper tension throughout a motion the less amount of force a person will be able to produce or absorb; leading to a weaker, slower movement and higher risk of injury.

How Should I stretch before running?

 Don’t get me wrong, I’m not telling you to not stretch. We still require good range of motion to perform proper technique and prevent injuries. What I’m saying is to change from excessive static stretching to pre exercise dynamic stretching instead.

One study by Zourdos1 found a significant, similar increase in flexibility in static stretching and dynamic stretching in endurance runners; but there was a significant decrease in performance in the statically stretched athlete and an increase in performance in the dynamic stretch group. Performance was based on two things time to reach distance and time to exhaustion.

Other professionals will say the same. So what do we all agree on?

A 5-10 minute of a dynamic warm up of the necessary muscles for the sport or event will not only increase range of motion, but increase metabolites and neuromuscular junctions for the activity; meaning a better outcome and prevention of muscle strains.

For ideas  or help on stretching follow us on Instagram or send us an email

Stay tuned for Pt.2
By: Eric Martinez Co-Founder | Clinical Performance Specialist

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1Effects of Dynamic Stretching on Energy Cost and Running Endurance Performance in Trained Male Runners

Zourdos, Michael C; Wilson, Jacob M; Sommer, Brian A; Lee, Sang-Rok; Park, Young-Min; Henning, Paul C; Panton, Lynn B; Kim, Jeong-Su

The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research: February 2012 – Volume 26 – Issue 2 – p 335-341

doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e318225bbae

 

2The Effects of Static Stretching on Running Economy and Endurance Performance in Female Distance Runners During Treadmill Running

Mojock, Chris D1; Kim, Jeong-Su1; Eccles, David W2; Panton, Lynn B1

The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research: August 2011 – Volume 25 – Issue 8 – p 2170-2176

doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e3181e859db

 

Pain During Running

Running with pain is no fun! Especially when you are training for a goal, whether it is  to reach a personal best time or lose weight.

Have you looked for many solutions, but the pain keeps coming? It’s important to understand where the pain is coming from and why. To comprehend where the pain is coming from we must first understand 2 things, what is gait and what are energy leaks.

What is Gait?

In simple terms gait is how we walk or run. The difference between running and walking is not just the amount of energy you use but also the contact time with the ground. During walking we have both our feet in contact with the ground providing a more stable base vs during running only 1 foot comes in contact with the ground, we also achieve “double flight”(when both feet are off the ground at the same time).

During the Running Gait Cycle there are 2 phases (although they can be broken down into 6 or 8 sub phases)

 

1 Stance phase
– initial contact
– loading response
– mid stance
– terminal stance
2 Swing phase
– pre swing
– initial swing
– mid swing
– terminal swing

Most hamstring injuries happen during the stance phases & the terminal swing.

During each phase your upper body is being utilized which includes: abdominals, lats, triceps and low back muscles.

What are energy leaks & how can it affect my running ?

An energy leak occurs when all the energy generated to do a movement or task does not go into that movement or task, therefor creating stress in the body and causing unnatural motion in other parts of the body (dysfunctional movement patterns).

Think about this, if your glutes don’t fire the lumbar spine and the hamstrings will experience unnecessary loading of energy. The stress caused by the unnatural movement and unnatural energy absorption/production can cause the hamstring fibers to tear and the excessive loading/compression of the lumbar may cause disc issues over time.

This can affect your running by causing pain, injury or making you fatigue quicker! Making you slower or worse, putting a pause on your running.

How can I avoid energy leaks and reduce my pain?

We recommend that you get a thorough biomechanical evaluation by a professional. To schedule a thorough biomechanical evaluation click here or the link above!  Also make sure to follow us on Instagram, FaceBook and our Website.