With the UK now in another national lockdown and people only allowed to leave their homes for a few reasons including; shopping, work, medical assistance, attending education and exercise there isn’t too much people can do.
One activity that has taken off over the past few years, largely down to parkrun, is running. Running is a great form of exercise, something you can do by yourself or with a group of friends. And it’s not only great for you physically, it is amazing for your mental health too. So go out and run run run.
However, before you do go out running you need a good warm up. There are loads of benefits to warming up, one being that you don’t injury yourself. But if you are new to running you might not know what an easy and good warm up is.
Well thanks in part to Rushcliffe AC an athletics club in Nottingham, we have put together a quick and easy stretching guide you can follow below.
1. Start with some light stretching
Start by staying in your house and doing a few light stretches. We recommend around 5-10 minutes of light stretching should be sufficient. You first few stretches should be really light, barely even stretching your muscles., then throughout 5-10 minutes just get deeper each time you stretch a specific muscle.
Tips: Make sure you stretch your whole body, upper and lower and don’t overstretch as this can cause more damage that it does good.
2. Start your run with a slow jog
After you have done your initial stretches start your run with a very slow jog. Between 3 to 5 minutes should do the trick and go at about half your running speed. Here we are just trying to warm up the muscles and get them ready for a proper run.
Tip: Don’t be afraid to throw in a couple of heel flicks or high knees during this time.
3. Stop and do a few more stretches
A good tip to ensure all your muscles are properly stretched and warm is once you have done your slow jog warm up, stop and do a few more stretches. You will find that even after the slow warm up your muscles can get tight very quickly and just stopping for a few minutes to gently stretch can really help.
Tips: You can keep moving forward whilst doing this. Walk then stretch, walk then stretch.
4. Start your run slowly
Now you can get into your running, but don’t set off like a rocket. Slowly get up to your full running speed. This doesn’t have to take long, maybe about a minute, but slowly getting up to speed will again ensure your muscles aren’t being put under too much pressure too quickly.
Tips: If its cold you might want to take a bit longer to get up to your running speed.
5. Stretch after and cool down properly
After you have finished your run you always need to do a proper cooldown and stretch. This is something that most runners don’t do, but stretching after a run will keep your muscles from cramping up and will mean your legs aren’t tight next time you run. For this you can just do the stretches you did at the beginning. Starting slowly and getting a bit deeper as you go along.
Tips: On your way back why not slow down and go back to half your running speed and then into a walk for the last 50 metres.
Other little tips
Don’t be afraid to stop midway through your run to do some more stretches. If anything feels tight continuing to run on it may cause more damage. Slow your pace down a bit, then stop, do a few stretches and slowly get back up to speed again.
Keeping warm is essential when you are out for a run. Take extra layers even if you don’t think you will need them. If it is slightly cold or windy every time you stop you will really feel the cold. And don’t worry if you think it will slow you down due to the weight, just think of it as extra weight training. Then when you run in the summer it will feel like a doddle.
Hopefully this quick guide will help all you new runners from getting injured. So happy stretching and happy running.