Spring is upon us, it’s the perfect time to get outside and enjoy the outdoors. Running is a great exercise to implement within your training regime to benefit from the warmer and lighter evenings. Whether you’re new to running or you’ve been doing it for years, it’s equally important to look after your body correctly to reduce the chances of injury. This means stretching! Here are the stretches every runner should be doing with #TeamBulk ambassador and fitness guru, Hayley Madigan.
When it comes to warming-up, we need to make sure we keep the exercises and stretches dynamic. This prepares the body by stimulating blood flow, increasing heart rate, improving flexibility and gets us in the zone and ready to run.
5 Dynamic Stretches that you should include in your warm-up:
The World’s Greatest stretch
It’s all in the name! Living up to its name, this is one of the stretches every runner should be doing. Targeting mobility within our thoracic spine, hip flexors and hamstrings, it’s a perfect addition to any warm-up.
- Step forward with your left leg whilst lowering your body into a deep lunge. As you go down, place your right hand on the floor so it’s even with your left foot.
- Now move your left elbow inside your left foot and rest it on the floor.
- Move your left hand outside your left foot, and twist to reach for the sky. Your eye line should be following your arm as it raises up.
- Rotate back around and step out the lunge and repeat on the opposite side.
Aim for 5-10 reps on each side. Keep this nice and dynamic and flow through each movement.
Knee to Chest Stretch
Our lower backs and glutes can build up tension over time. This stretch is a great way to increase mobility before exercising.
- Start by laying down on your back, with your heels resting on the floor.
- By bending on leg bring it in close to your chest. Wrap your hands around your leg to bring it in closer to your chest.
- Gently pull your leg into your chest by giving it a little hug.
- Keep this dynamic and just pause at the top for 1-2 seconds before you slowly lower it back down to the floor.
- Swap legs and repeat. Aim for 5-10 reps per leg.
Low Lunge with Arm Raise
Our hip flexors are continuously used with running. It’s vital they are warmed up and is one of the key stretches every runner should be doing. The low lunge with arm raise is a perfect way to do so:
- Start off by reverse lunging with your right leg and dropping the right knee onto the floor.
- Allow the right knee to rest as you push your hips gently forward to increase the lunge width, with your left knee bent at 90 degrees and heel placed on the floor.
- Raise your arms up and in line with your ears, gently sink down lower into the stretch to feel your hip flexor on your right side lengthen. You can add a slight back bend to increase the stretch if you need to.
- Whilst keeping this dynamic, move hips back and lower arms. Swap over legs and repeat for 5-10 reps each side.
Deep Squat into Hamstring Raises
Running targets the majority of our lower body, so we need to make sure our hamstring and hip mobility is ready before we start!
- Place your legs slightly wider than shoulder width and drop down into a deep squat, as low as you can go which is comfortable.
- Place your hands underneath your toes and gently straighten your legs up and out of the squat whilst keeping your head down looking towards the floor.
- Lengthen out your hamstrings whilst still keeping your hands underneath your toes. Hold for a second or two and return back down into the deep squat.
- Repeat this for 10 reps 2-3 sets. If you find it hard to straighten your hamstring fully just go to where feels comfortable for you and your body.
Internal and External Hip Rotations
Our hip mobility is vital for running and is something that will reduce the more we train and the less we stretch. Make sure you are practicing this mobility exercise to keep those hips young!
- Start by sitting on the floor with your feet flat on the ground and your arms behind you keeping your back straight and chest up.
- Allow both legs to fall down to the left side, so that the outside of your left leg is on the ground and the inside of your right leg is on the ground. Make sure your legs are both bent at the knee at about 90 degrees.
- From here, pushing your weight into your hands. Rotate your legs the opposite way so the inside of your left leg is now on the ground and the outside of your right leg is on the ground.
- Keep this dynamic by moving swiftly whilst keeping form, aim to complete 20 reps for 2-3 sets.
Let us know how you go implementing these key stretches that every runner should be doing. By adding these simple yet effective exercises into your warm-up you will minimise injury risk. You’ll also enable your body to be more prepared to run whilst looking after your mobility, flexibility and lower body health.
After any running sessions make sure you refuel in order to rebuild and repair the muscles worked. I recommend bulk 1™ Complete Food Shake as it has everything you will need to recover well will 30g of protein, 37g of carbs and rich in micronutrients, plus is 100% vegan with delicious flavours – the Banana Caramel is incredible!
For more fitness and nutrition tips, recipes and ambassador workouts, check out @bulk and get involved in the conversation by tagging #TeamBulk and be part of our community.