Happy National Running Day! Now as much as you’d like to jump in and take part in the occasion, first make sure to do these crucial stretches to ensure your safety and optimum effectiveness for your run. These easy stretches have been broken down into “dynamic” pre-run stretches and “static” post-run stretches. So go ahead and try these out and enjoy your run.
Both these dynamic stretches loosen up and activate all your leg muscles—inner and outer thighs, hips, hamstrings, calves and quadriceps—through full range of motion.
Leg swings: Hold onto a sturdy object, stand on one leg and swing the other leg forward and back. Do 20. Then swing that same leg side to side 20 times. Each swing should build until your leg is close to its full range of motion.
Walking lunges: Take a large step forward with your right leg, and bend the knee until your thigh is parallel to the floor and knee is aligned with your ankle. Push back upward, draw your left foot even with your right and step forward with the left. Try to keep your walking lunges fluid, and focus on proper form. Do 20 (10 per leg).
Kneeling hip flexor and hamstring: From a kneeling position, plant the right foot on the ground in front of you, so the leg is bent 90 degrees, with the knee and ankle aligned. Keeping your back straight, press forward into your right hip while keeping your left knee pressed into the ground, stretching your left hip and right hamstring. To increase the stretch to the left hip flexors, squeeze and contract the glute muscles of your left hip.
Standing quad: Stand with legs together. Bend your left leg, bringing your heel toward your butt, and grasp your left foot with your left hand. Press your shoelaces into your hand, so that your leg does the stretching instead of pulling up with your hand.
Standing calf: Stand facing a wall with your hands on the wall at about chest level. Placing the ball of your right foot up against the wall, heel touching the floor, gently lean into the wall until you feel a stretch in your calf while keeping your leg straight.