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Warm up before a run, stretch after to cool down

WARMING UP

Conventional wisdom of the past was to stretch before you ran.  The problem with that is stretching cold muscles can lead to injury.  Today, most sources suggest warming up before running and saving the stretching for after the run.  We believe in that, too.  What many in the field recommend for a warm up is a short run.  If you are just getting started with this program, a short run may be your entire work out.  Kind of defeats the purpose of a warm up.  Instead of a warm up run, we suggest doing a few jumping jacks, walking on you tippy toes (don't you love our techie speak?) and plain old walking.  A minute or two should be enough (unless you plan on doing speed work, but more on that later).

STRETCHING

As noted above, today's wisdom is that stretching your muscles after a workout is the way to go.  Stretching after you run will help you recover faster.  Believe it. 

There are different theories about how to stretch.  For example, some suggest that holding a stretch for a minute is the way to go.  Others seem to feel that short bursts are better.  One constant is that you don't want to do a quick, hard stretch as that too can cause injury.  A gentle pull of the muscles is what you are looking for.  We suggest you experiment with the time you hold a stretch, but 10 - 30 seconds per stretch is a good starting point.

You want to stretch all of the muscle groups in your legs including quads (thigh), hip flexor (muscle connecting leg to torso), hamstring (back of thigh), gluteus (butt) and calf.  The photos below show the stretches that we normally do.  They hit all the key muscle groups.  The arrows point to the muscle area you should feel with each different stretch.  You can alter the angle of your joints to stretch different areas of the muscles (a good thing).  You may find different stretches better hit your muscles.  Make sure you stretch each group.    

                                                            

                  Quad                                Quad, upper arrow, hip flexor, lower                   Hamstring      

                      
                                  

                        Gluteus                                  Gluteus / Hamstring                           Calf