• Stretching Guidelines:

    © Great Strides 2006 Shelly-lynn Florence Glover

    Easy does it. .You should feel the tension in the belly of the muscle, not at the attachments.Move smoothly, both going into and coming out of each stretch. A slowly stretched muscle relaxes and lengthens.

    Don’t try to do more than your body is able to do. Forcing a stretch, by bouncing or swinging, jerks the muscle reflex to “fight back” and shorten. It may even pull or tear if overstretched.

    Stretch to mild tension holding 10 to30 seconds. Relax for 5 to10 seconds (or alternate with the other leg or another exercise) before repeating the stretch. Do up to three times.

    Breathe normally. Holding your breath can create tension. Belly breathe while stretching just as you should when running. Take an abdominal breath (stomach extends as you inhale) and let it out slowly. Emphasize the exhalation as you move into stretch.


    • MORNINGS - Be especially careful about stretching in the early morning prior to running. Your muscles will be stiff and vulnerable to injury. It may be better to skip the stretching and instead walk briskly for 10 minutes prior to running and then concentrate on stretching after the run. A warm shower can also loosen up morning stiffness.
    • NEW STRETCHES- Introduce new and advanced stretches gradually.
    • RACING - Be wary of overstretching before a race when you are nervous and rushed, you can do more damage than good. Look around at races; most likely the majority of runners will be stretching impatiently and improperly.
    • INJURY - Go easy on sore and injured muscles. Stretching may aggravate them. Stick to easy limbering movements until the muscle is healed and ready to be worked. Avoid stretches that aggravate pre-existing conditions, especially knee or back pain. Check with your doctor or physical therapist for specific guidelines.

    These are common stretches, determined to be high-risk exercises by the American College of Sports Medicine and other experts:

    Straight-Legged Standing Toe Touch,

    Standing One Straight Leg Up Hamstring Stretch (as in foot up on a bench) ,

    Hurdler Stretch,

    The Plow,

    Full Neck Circles,

    Cobra (back extension in prone position).

    Many use the same basic routine every day so they feel comfortable with it; know it and stay with it. Others prefer variety.You may wish to add some strengthening exercises to your stretching routine before or after your run for a total fitness workout. The Runner's Handbook has more than 50 stretches for specific problem areas.


    Lower Leg/Calf/Achilles Tendon

    Step forward.

    Put your body weight in the back leg, pushing through the heel.

    In the front leg, align the knee over the ankle.

    Stand tall opening the chest aligning the shoulders over the hips.

    Arch/Plantar Fascia - Gently raise up on to the toe, pushing the whole body into a tall position. Hold, lower your heel and repeat.

    Calf/Soleus/Achilles Tendon- Keeping the back heel on the ground, bend the back knee slightly. Do not bring the heel off the ground.

    Hold the stretch for ten to 30 seconds. Straighten the knee. Repeat.

    Repeat on the other side.

    Hip Flexor - To improve stretching posture and stretch hip flexor, contract the abdominals and lift the rib cage up and off the pelvis. Push the buttocks forward. Do not twist the hips.