Friday, May 19, 2006

The Most Important Stretches for Runners By Dominique De Rooij

You as a runner know, or should know, the importance of a warming-up before, and a cooling-down after your workout.First you do your easy running and then your stretches. A bit of calf stretching here, reaching the toes there, a few strides and your done.You think.What a shame.You just forgot two very important stretches. Maybe the two most important ones for runners. These two stretches will keep nasty injuries like shin splints and achilles tendonitis out of the door. So please take your time to learn about them.Shin Splints Shin splints are lower leg pains either to the inside of the lower leg (medial shin splints) or to the front outside part(anterior shin splints).They happen to runners who are new to the sport and push themselves too much, runners who suddenly increase their mileage too excessive and runners who change their running terrain to harder or steeper grounds.It is not so strange we runners develop shin splints. Our lower legs take the impact of two to three times our body weight every time we take a step while running. Each leg does about eighty to ninety steps a minute. That’s a lot of impact on your lower legs ! Achilles Tendonitis Achilles tendonitis is another one of those pains to the lower legs many runners come across in their running career. It is caused by too much stress on the achilles, for instance due to excessive increases in mileage, too much hill work and too much speed work.Do you see the similarities with shin splints?Those lower legs need some extra muscle to fight against our urges to do crazy stuff ! Your Two Most Important Stretches So what we need to do is strengthen our lower legs. Not just now and then. I advise to do the following two stretches after every workout. So incorporate them into your running schedule and do them every cooling-down again.Heel dropsThis stretch is so important to prevent achilles tendonitis. Stand on a curb with your front foot. Drop your heels. Slowly count to five and lift again. Repeat 10 times. Calf raisesThis one is very important for preventing achilles tendonitis as well. But also for preventing and/or battling shin splints. Stand on the floor and lift your heels. Slowly count to five and drop again. Repeat ten times. That's it.That's all.It is almost too easy.And it is such a shame that not every runner out there is doing these simple stretches. I certainly hope you will incorporate these stretches in your running program. And hey, tell your running buddies about them too !
Dominique de Rooij is an avid runner. He is also the founder of Running Tips is the website for running tips on training, apparel and gear.
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