Stretch Before and After Running

Photo Credit: Steve Newman CC-BY-SA-3.0
Stretching your muscles after you warm-up, but before exercise, may help reduce your risk of injury from muscle strains and joint sprains. Stretching after you cool-down may also help to reduce the pain of delayed onset muscle soreness. Stretching after a run can help to remove lactic acid from your muscles. Lactic acid is the stuff that makes your muscles feel fatigued and may contribute to muscle soreness after exercise. Running really works your butt, hip flexors, quadriceps, hamstrings and your calf muscles. Your feet and ankles take a pounding, too. Stretching your muscles can also help you feel less tired after a vigorous run.
Avoid bouncing when you stretch your muscles and stretch slowly. Stretching too fast or bouncing on your muscles to stretch them can cause injury. Bouncing will cause your muscles to tense, which is the opposite of what you want to happen. Stretching should relax your muscles to help remove toxins that may contribute to soreness. Stretching will also stimulate blood flow to help repair the micro-tears that occur with exercise.
Runners who do not properly warm-up and stretch before a run may experience muscle cramps. Muscle cramps are involuntary contractions of the muscle tissue, which can be painful. Stretching can help reduce the risk of muscle cramps by stimulating blood flow. Stretching also helps to increase joint flexibility. After a long run of 30 minutes or more, your muscles may begin to feel tight. After walking to cool down, stretch your muscles to alleviate tightness and increase flexibility in your muscles and joints.

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