We have all seen it. The pictures at any track meet, local 5K, the Olympics. Runners sitting on the ground or standing in various stages of stretching. Over the past few years, more and more studies are coming out proving that this type of “hold for 30
seconds” stretching can be counter-productive. Think of it like the elastic shot in your pantyhose. Stretching cold muscles and tendons makes them loose. So loose, they do not have the ability to store the kind of energy and power we need out of them when the running starts. They can’t spring into action as quickly as before.
If static stretching is not recommended, are we supposed to jump out of the car and start running? Well, kind of.
Dynamic Stretching is slow controlled movement of large muscle groups before a sustained workout. We shouldn’t stretch muscles that are “cold”, and we certainly shouldn’t jump into hard cardio on cold muscles. We still need to warm-up.
1. Leg swings. Swing one leg out to the side, then swing it back across your body in front of your other leg.
2. Zombie kicks. Stand upright. Lift leg straight out in front of you, toes pulled back. Alternate legs as you walk across the room. Hold arms straight out for balance.
3. Butt-kicks. While standing tall, walk forward with an exaggerated backswing so that your heels come up to your glutes. When this is easy, try it while jogging.
4. Walking lunges. 1. Step forward with your right leg and slowly lower your body until your right knee is bent at least 90 degrees 2. Pause, then raise up and bring your back foot forward so that you move forward (like you’re walking) a step with every rep. Alternate the leg you step forward with each time.
5. Hackey sack. Lift your left leg up, bending the knee so it points out. Try to tap the inside of your left foot with your right hand without bending forward. Repeat 10 times on each side.
Check out this video for further demonstration.
As with most everything, most rules do not apply to all people. Some runners will still continue to stretch the way they always have, with the idea “if it’s not broken, it doesn’t need fixed” and I cannot argue that AT ALL. But before beginners learn habits that might not be the most beneficial, keep dynamic stretching in mind.