Most of you know that I have a very storied past with running and injuries. In my early days of running in college and the years following, I battled everything from bursitis to Achilles tendonitis to foot pain to a hamstring injury to hip pain and more. It was so frustrating that at one point I gave up distance running all together and at one point went nearly five years between races!
(All photos Scott Broome Photography)
Thankfully, things changed for me. I emerged from that running hiatus and have been back to running for over six years…and injury free for the most part! A combination of yoga, strength, mobility, calling in the experts and learning to truly listen to my body got me to that point. Running was my first fitness love and it’s felt so unbelievably amazing to be in a place where I feel so good when I do it.
My first race back was the 2014 Novant Health Charlotte Marathon where I set a half marathon PR of 1:44 that I never thought would be possible for me! The Novant Health Charlotte Marathon has remained my favorite race in Charlotte (I think I’ve run the half 6-7 times now…once pregnant!). I even went on to be an ambassador for the Charlotte Marathon in 2016 and the last couple of years I have run the marathon relay pushing Finn in the jogging stroller with teams of other women. I am so disappointed that the race won’t be happening this year and can’t wait to get back to it!
I want to give you some tried and true tips for avoiding orthopedic and common sports injuries while running through a series of posts. This one is going to talk about how to properly warm-up for a run and the following will include info on core work for runners and the best yoga poses for runners.
IMPORTANT REMINDER! If you do experience a sports injury to see someone as soon as possible. It is so much easier to treat injuries at their onset when they are acute rather than to push through the pain and end up with something chronic.
DYNAMIC STRETCHES FOR RUNNERS
How do you warm up for running? Be honest. Do you lace up your shoes and head out of the door and start running or do you take time to stretch? I know (from experience!) that most of us skip the stretching and head straight out and run. That is so hard on your body! Think about it…if you’ve been sleeping all night and go out for an early morning run your body gets quite the jolt. Alternatively, if you’ve been sitting at a desk all day and then go running after work, your muscles are going from a shortened state to working hard without any time to prepare.
Before you run, it’s helpful to do a few dynamic stretches. These are movement-based stretches that help activate your muscles and improve your range of motion so that your body is ready to run!
Here are five of my favorite dynamic stretches for runners! I PROMISE that this routine will take less than five minutes and will help you so much with preventing running injuries.
1. Calf Raises
Calf strain and Achilles tendonitis are no fun, and I speak from experience! I would say that calf strain is probably the thing that I still struggle with the most if something is going to flare up. Some simple calf raises can help increase blood flow to your calf muscles and wake them up for running. This is ESPECIALLY important for those of you ladies wearing high heels to work and then going running.
What to do: stand on the sidewalk or on a curb and do 15-20 reps of calf raises. Lift high onto the toes and then melt the heels down.
2. Leg Swings
These leg swings will help bring range of motion into the hamstrings and the hips.
What to do: place one hand on something to steady yourself and swing the opposite leg forwards and backwards 10-15 times. Keep the leg straight as you swing and the heel flexed. Repeat on the other side.
3. Down Dog to Runner’s Lunge Twist
This is one of my favorite dynamic stretches and I include it in so many of my classes and personal workouts. It’s such a nice flow that opens everything from back side body to the spine.
What to do: start in down dog. Lunge one foot forward between the hands. Keep the opposite hand on the ground and twist towards the forward knee while lifting the other hand up. Step back to down dog and switch sides. Do 5 on each side, alternating sides on each rep.
4. Hamstring Stretch to Squat Reach
This one is hard but so good! It opens the hamstrings and hips while also addressing upper body mobility, which you need to maintain good posture while you run. It’s a perfect progression to follow the down dog twist stretch.
What to do: from a standing position, take the feet a little wider than the hips. Reach down and touch the toes and then drop the hips to a low squat. Be sure to keep your heels grounded. At the bottom of your squat, reach your arms overhead. Rise to stand. Do 5-7 reps at a slow pace.
5. Lateral Lunges
Lateral lunges are a great place to finish to really make sure that you have the hips nice and open to run.
What to do: take a deep bend in one knee and drop the hips low. Keep the heel grounded. Turn the toes up on the opposite leg. Switch sides. Do 5 reps on each side, switching side to side and keeping the hands in front of the chest.
5 DYNAMIC STRETCHES FOR RUNNERS VIDEO
Here’s a video that demonstrates each of the above dynamic stretches.
DYNAMIC STRETCHES FOR RUNNERS PINNABLE
And here’s your Pinterest or phone-friendly graphic!
Do you do any type of warm up before you run?
What’s the worst running injury that you’ve ever dealt with?
Do you have any running injury related questions you’d like for me to address in a future post?