If you loved competing in track and field even a few years ago, you and your teammates could be seen in a variety of positions, holding static stretches for 20 seconds to loosen muscles and get flexible. Today at runs and races you will most likely see people doing lunges, crouches, and dynamic stretches during their warmups instead. Why? Because recent research suggests that static stretches before a workout or race may not prevent injury and may actually slow you down during the race.
What is dynamic stretching? It is using controlled movements of your legs to improve range of motion in your joints, get your muscles loose, and gradually raise your heartbeat and blood flow to get you ready for more intense activity.
You should still start your warmup with gentle walking. This gets your body used to the motions that you will use for your run, and gradually raises your core temperature and warms your muscles. After 3 to 5 minutes you can start slow jogging and then do a few “strides” or “pickups” where you gradually pick up the pace for 60 – 100 meters and then lower it again, and then walk around for 90 seconds shaking out your legs. Keep your steps short and quick during the strides, and balance your torso over your legs.
Follow with dynamic stretches like these:
- Stand tall with great posture, then lift one knee and hug it to your chest. Balance (use your glutes!) and then release the knee and step forward with that leg, bringing the other knee to your chest. Repeat this for about 30 feet.
- Start tall with good posture. Then lunge forward with one leg and plant the foot firmly, keeping your entire lower body in line. While holding that position, reach up with the opposite arm and rotate and lean over to the outside of the planted leg to rotate your torso slightly. Then face forward and use the planted leg to lift yourself to a standing position again. Hold each position a couple of seconds before moving smoothly to the next. Repeat with other leg.
It’s a good idea to have an expert show you how to do these and other stretches safely. If you rush things and injure yourself, give Abbott Foot & Ankle Clinic in Collingwood, ON a call at (705) 444-9929 or use our contact page to schedule an appointment.