You may think that you're doing everything right when it comes to running. You might think that you've asked a lot of questions, researched the answers, and have been sticking to them religiously. However, you may also be surprised to discover that despite all of your good intentions, you're actually holding yourself back.
Stretching, for example, is something that has been recommended for most runners and that many runners know is the best thing to do to get things started and to prevent injury. However, the key isn't in doing the action. It's in doing the right action. According to Texas A&M University, the typical stretching routine actually slows runners down.
A new study that was recently published in the Strength & Conditioning Journal determined that the majority of people are doing the wrong kids of stretches before they run. This undermines the "running economy", that is, the efficiency of your run. Stretching needs to be done in order to improve flexibility while enhancing the oxygen use of the muscles.
The most common mistakes that are made by runners when they stretch include:
• Static stretching – this means taking a certain position and then holding it for a length of time or for as long as possible. This can lead to an inefficient stride because it lengthens the wrong muscles and doesn't help the tendons and hamstrings that need to be tight or loosened (depending on what they are).
• Lacking dynamic warm-ups – these include high knee walking, lunges, hip lifts and other types of stretches and warm-ups that involve action and use of muscles instead of stretching them out from a static position. Dynamic stretching makes it possible to stretch out the parts of the body that need to be, while leaving the appropriate areas tighter because that is how they should be left.
• Boosting knee and hip flexibility – this is particularly important for distance runners. When the hips are tight, the alignment is thrown off so it is tougher to push off with each step. When knees are not flexible, there is an added amount of resistance with each step harming the running economy. Working on flexibility in the knees and hips should be considered very important to running performance and ease.
By making changes to stretch properly and to enhance flexibility in the right parts of the body, it can make a big difference to your running performance and can stop your favorite sport from being as difficult as it seems.