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Running Warm Up & Stretching Tips

Recently at a Relay Race I saw many runners warming up by stretching prior to the race.

It’s definitely a good practice as stretching muscles improves flexibility and prevents injuries.

However, I saw many ineffective stretches so this prompted me to write on ways to improve your running warm up prior to a race or long run.

Let’s take a look at some simple additions you can add to your race routines.

Pre-Race Running Warm Up and Post-Race Stretching Tips:

 

While a pre-race running warm up is definitely important, what you do after your race or training runs is actually even more important.

The reason is the run produces an excess of hydrogen ions in your muscle fibers (think of it as lactic acid build-up) and the hydrogen ions cause spasms to knot up your muscle fibers.  Flushing out the hydrogen ions brings blood into your muscle fibers and speeds up your healing time.

Plus, by flushing out the hydrogen ions you decrease any pain or soreness you may feel in  your muscles.  And it means when you start your running warm up the next day you won’t add to the spasms that were formed already.  I think of it as starting with a clean slate each day.

How to Release Muscle Spasms (Muscle Fiber Knots):

Pressing straight into your muscle with either your palm, your fingertips, a length of PVC pipe does the trick.

By the way, rolling the bamboo stick massager, PVC pipe or any other tool designed to force toxins out of the muscle isn’t as effective as deeply sliding down the length of the muscle.

The key to strong, healthy muscles is to first release the spasms that shorten muscle fibers, and second stretch for flexibility.

To skip the first step will ultimately cause potential injury to your muscle fibers!

Most Important Muscles for Running Warm Ups and Post-Run Treatments:

 

Quadriceps:  Always self-treat these muscles first as they are rotating your pelvis forward and down causing your hamstrings to be overstretched.

Hamstrings:  Always self-treat this muscle LAST.  This is very important since, while they definitely have spasms in the muscle fibers, they are already overstretched by the pelvic rotation and you could tear the fibers.

 

This Makes Me Cringe:

 

I’ve seen many runners throw a leg up on a park bench and lean forward to stretch the hamstrings thinking that they are doing their body good.  I’ve even gone over and explained why that can cause the muscle to tear.

It pains me to see someone stretching their hamstrings when I know they haven’t first done anything to release the tension in their quadriceps.  They just don’t realize they are making the problem worse because it does feel good for the moment.

 

The Good News:

 

Of course, all runners strain each of the muscles of the lower leg.  These muscles cause plantar fasciitis, shin splints, Achilles tendonitis and more (not the good news…here it comes).  The good news is each of the muscles of the lower leg are very easy for runners to self-treat both while warming up and to then effectively stretch.

To go into each of these muscles would make this blog into the size of a book (which I’ve already written!).  For now I’ll just suggest taking a look through the website pages and posts for more information.

Releasing muscles spasms prior to running, warming up the fibers and stretching will improve your running time and keep your muscles strong!

It’s also worth your time and energy to keep your muscles healthy by releasing the toxins in the muscle fibers after you run and then following up by stretching.

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