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With all of the running events coming up on the calendar I thought it would be a good time to talk about the benefits of dynamic stretching. As our training begins to ramp up so too does our risk for injury. Many of the aches and pains so common to runners have to do with the limited range of motion involved in running. The main difference between dynamic stretching and traditional (static) stretching is that it is active. The purpose of dynamic stretching is to warm up the muscles and connective tissues by increasing blood flow and taking them through a wider range of motion, preparing them for action. Static stretching encourages the muscles to relax, great for recovery but counterproductive before activity. The intent during dynamic stretching is not to gain flexibility but to simply warm up your body and prepare it for activity.
Here’s a sample routine to try before your next run:
Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and your hands on your hips. Rotate your hips in circles, clockwise 10 times and then counterclockwise 10 times.
-Lateral Leg Swings
Hold onto a wall or light post for stability. With your feet shoulder distance apart, swing a leg straight out to the side and then across the front of your body to the opposite side. Repeat the motion 10 times for each leg.
Starting on all fours, raise your hips so the body forms an inverted “V” and you’re supporting yourself on your hands and feet. Slowly pedal the feet, lowering one heel to the ground while raising the other. Keep your leg as straight as possible when lowering the heel and then bending the knee as you raise it. Repeat 10 times each leg.
Stand with your legs about double shoulder width with your toes pointed slightly outwards. Keeping your back as straight as possible, bend one knee about 90 degrees and lower your self while keeping the other leg straight out to the side, raise up to a standing position and then bend the other knee and repeat. Repeat 10 times each leg.
-High Kicks (Toy Soldier)
Walking forward, kick your leg as high as you can while keeping it straight. Alternate legs as you walk. Repeat 10 times each leg.
Walking forward, kick the heels back into the glutes with each step. Repeat 10 times each leg.
Step forward bending the front knee 90 degrees (take care to make sure the knee cap is over the ankle) while keeping the rear leg as straight as possible (without straining). Lower rear knee to the ground in a controlled and easy motion. Stand up (using your hands if needed) and step forward with the rear leg. Repeat 10 times each leg.
Adding a simple routine like this one prior to your workouts and events can do wonders for performance and injury prevention. As always, if you have any additional questions feel free to email us at Science of Speed and we will be happy to answer them.