Warming Up and Cooling Down for Running

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2016 YMCA Turkey Trot

Warm up those drumsticks

You wouldn’t expect your car to throttle smoothly down the highway without warming up the engine, right? The same goes for your body’s engine. Spending a few minutes to warm up will help wake up your body so it’s ready when the gun fires. A common misconception is that a warm up is the same thing as stretching. This is partially true. When we think “stretching”, we usually think of the runner sitting on the ground, legs in a figure four position, reaching for his toes. This is a classic example of a “static stretch”. The stretch is being performed statically, or without motion, and is usually held for a length of time. This type of stretch has value, but it is best saved for after your run to help you recover. Running is a dynamic activity, and you should prepare your body with dynamic warm up. By stretching through active motions you increase oxygen and blood flow to your muscles. Static stretching before running has been proven to hinder your performance. So in theory you would be better off doing nothing at all to warm up. This obviously isn’t the best way to run without injury. Check out the video below for examples of dynamic stretches. We will take you through a lunge matrix that can be used as a warm up before your next run.

Let those buns cool down

You made it! The finish line is in clear sight, and the anticipation to shut it down and celebrate your finish sweeps in. Performing some gentle stretches after a run can help prevent muscle soreness later on. The worst thing you can do after finishing a run is nothing. Grab some water, walk a bit to catch your breath. When you’re able to keep a conversation with your running buds – it’s time to get back to work for recovery. The sooner you can begin stretching once you’ve completed your run, the better. Your muscles are warmed up allowing them to relax into the stretch and lengthen. Now is the time to perform slow, longer stretches. A few muscle groups that tend to get tight during runs are our quads and calves. These muscles are usually the first culprits when it comes to running injuries. Check out the quick clip below to get some ideas on how to stretch these muscles out after a run.

Buffalo, Rehab, Group, Physical, Therapy

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