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10 Ways to Have a More Comfortable Run

10 Ways to Have a More Comfortable Run

More than 19 million people in the U.S. finish at least one official race event per year, and millions more run outside of official events. However, there are numerous obstacles that can prevent people from reaching their running goals, including avoidable physical discomfort.

Here are 10 tips to help you run more comfortably so that you can reach and exceed all of your goals.

1. Map out Each Run

There may be some excitement involved in simply stepping outside and running in a random direction, but this is not the best way to get the most out of each experience. In fact, failure to map out each run in advance could cause you to run into numerous obstacles that will not only hinder your run but could even be dangerous. Keep in mind that construction projects, special events and road closures are a way of life, and they can get in the way of your next run. Therefore, a little bit of prep work before you go outside can ensure a much better and more satisfying result.

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2. Invest in Prescription Sports Goggles or Sports Sunglasses

Running with glasses on can be cumbersome, but it is also imperative for those who need corrective lenses so that they can focus on road signs and the ground beneath them. Sunglasses can also be vital on bright days, and you may need a combination of the two to get through a marathon.

Fortunately, there are prescription sports glasses for runners available from retailers such as GooglesNMore.com that can improve your physical comfort without forcing you to sacrifice your need to have clear vision. This option is also beneficial for swimmers, bikers, Tough Mudders and anyone else who is putting on their weekend warrior suit. Additionally, sunglasses are available in a wraparound goggle format that will prevent them from slipping off your face.

3. Purchase the Right Shoes for Your Needs

Something as simple as buying a new pair of running shoes can actually become needlessly complicated due to the wide variety of options that are available. However, it is not a wise idea to buy the first pair that looks nice and comes in the right size. Each of us has different foot needs that should be honored when we buy running shoes. For example, if you have flat feet, you will need to purchase stability shoes that offer strong arch support and are relatively stiff.

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4. Wear Properly Fitted Clothing

Walking in clothing that is too tight or too loose feels awkward enough as it is, but when you add running into the mix, this becomes a recipe for disaster. Not only will the clothes cling or hang off of you in an uncomfortable way but you will also run the risk of experiencing unnecessary chaffing. Clothing that is extremely loose may also snag more easily on your surroundings. If your pants are too long, you may end up with some of the fabric caught underneath your feet. Steer clear of these potential issues by choosing a running outfit that fits properly so that you can focus on running instead of dealing with clothing related issues.

5. Choose Moisture Wicking Materials

Many people make the mistake of choosing cotton because it feels soft, but you need a moisture wicking outfit to keep sweat from causing irritation and chaffing. Moisture wicking materials are imperative for sports bras and underwear. Turn to technical running clothing to improve your comfort and even make it easier to regulate your temperature during the summer and winter. Online resources such as Running Warehouse specialize in carrying moisture wicking materials and running shoes.

6. Maintain a Proper Pace

It is tempting to give it your all at the beginning or end of a run. Unfortunately, setting an uneven pace will make the rest of the run less comfortable and could even lead to physical injuries. That being the case, you need to pick a steady pace that is either fully comfortable or slightly pushes your limits to have a good running experience. You can improve your pacing and timing by making slight increases over time. Taking this approach will also make you less likely to suffer from an injury.

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7. Focus on Positive Aspects

It has been scientifically proven that negative thinking can reduce your psychological well-being in the short and long-term, so you should always make a strong attempt to focus on the positive aspects of each run as opposed to letting negativity seep into your day. Even if everything seems to be going wrong, try to find one positive thing to focus on. For example, if the area where you want to run is unexpectedly under construction, you can focus on the positive benefits of getting to explore a new area instead.

8. Select a Route that is Visually Pleasing

If you walk outside right now, do you see something pleasing or a drab setting that does not make you feel uplifted? The answer to this will help determine whether or not you should run in your own neighborhood or take a trip to a nearby park before you get started. Ultimately, your surroundings will have a major impact on your ability to stay interested and in a good mood throughout your run. This is the primary reason that so many people choose to run in the woods, and it also helps explain the huge popularity of aesthetically-pleasing virtual runs for people who prefer to exercise on their treadmill.

9. Remove Pressure by Running without a Timer

It can be tempting to time each of your runs, especially if you are training for a marathon. Removing this pressure, though, makes it more possible for you to enjoy the experience and go down the path less traveled when it presents itself. You can still keep a basic eye on how far you go and in what time period, but try not to develop any strict adherence to getting through a run in a hard and fast time frame.

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10. Stretch after Each Run

Conventional wisdom used to state that we should always stretch before exercising, but more recent research indicates that this is counter-productive and may increase your injury risk. Stretching is still very important, though, and you need to devote at least five minutes to this activity at the end of each run. It is also smart to have a cool off period after your run during which you slow down by walking for a few minutes. Taking this step will increase your post-run comfort and will keep your body in better shape for your next run.

Now that you have the tools necessary to make your next run more comfortable, you can begin focusing on other running tips that can help you boost your overall performance. Combining all of this useful information will make you a better runner and could give you everything that you need to complete a marathon.

Featured photo credit: John Benson via flickr.com

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Holly Chavez

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Published on September 20, 2018

15 Static Stretching Exercises to Totally Enhance Your Workout Routine

15 Static Stretching Exercises to Totally Enhance Your Workout Routine

Stretching is one of those aspects of fitness that many people conveniently forget about. Perhaps you’re one of those who consider stretching nothing but a mere chore meant for ballerinas and gymnasts.

Well… you’re wrong!

Everyone needs stretching! Irrespective of your reasons for working out, be it for sports or personal fitness, one thing is certain – stretching can help you. Stretching – static or dynamic – comes with myriads of benefits – such as improvement in flexibility and reduction in muscle tightness – which ultimately allow you to go through your workout routines with greater efficiency.

For the purpose of this article, though, we’ll zero in on static stretching and take a look at its benefits and when it should be done. Finally I’ll cap it up by revealing 15 great static stretching exercises that’ll help keep your whole body in tip-top condition. So sit back, relax and enjoy!

Benefits of static stretching

Static stretching comes with tons of benefits that can help you to make the most of your workout routine. Some of them include:

1. Improved flexibility

Alright! Here’s the deal – if you want to perform better, flexibility is of tremendous importance, irrespective of the specific workouts you do. And luckily enough, static stretching is all you need to get all the flexibility you desire.

Flexibility, also known as the range of motion (ROM) around a joint, has been shown by several studies to be improved by static stretching.[1] And although the specific mechanism through which this occurs is still unclear, static stretching has been shown to greatly increase joint flexibility[2] and tissue length,[3] which work in tandem to make your workout more effective.

2. Decreased risk of injury

If you’re looking to push yourself to your training limits without coming down with injuries, then stretching will do you a great service. Research has shown time and time again, that performing the right stretch exercises pre- and post-workout greatly helps with injury prevention.[4]

So, how does it work? Well, think of it this way:

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When you stretch you literally push your joints and muscle fibers to their limit. This increases the stretch tolerance in these muscles and joints over time and the increased tolerance allows you to perform more rigorous exercises without negatively impacting your body or risking an injury.

3. Increased blood flow and nutrient supply to the joints

Another benefit of stretching is increased blood flow – and by extension, nutrient supply – to the joints and muscles of the target areas. This, in turn, improves the performance of these muscles and joints due to the availability of more nutrients, improved oxygenation and removal of metabolites.

For static stretching though, the mechanism of action isn’t as straightforward. When stretching statically, blood flow (capillary oxygenation) temporarily reduces due to vascular compression.

However, immediately after releasing the stretch, the blood flow to these areas nearly doubles the pre-stretching levels.[5] Thus, blood flow increases.

4. Improvement in recovery

If you’ve been working out for some time, then you’ve probably discovered that a rigorous workout session can leave you battling with sore muscles… for days!

Recovery essentially means getting rid of this soreness and returning your muscle fibres back to their tip-top condition.

So, how does stretching come in? See…that’s the thing, research has shown that practicing static stretching after your workout session helps to reduce muscle soreness. And while some may argue that this effect is minimal, the fact still remains that stretching does help shorten your recovery time.

Stretching allows tissues to be better hydrated after the induced tension is released and this encourages the inflammation and faster repair of such tissues.

Other reasons why you really should incorporate stretching into your workout include:

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  • Improved relaxation
  • Increased movement efficiency
  • Reduction in the risk of lower back pain
  • Reduction in muscular tension
  • Improvement in neuromuscular coordination
  • Improvement in balance and postural awareness
  • Provision of relief from cramping

Alrighty! Now that it’s crystal clear that stretching does your body a world of good, let’s dive right into the actual stretching exercises.

15 Great static stretching exercises you should start doing

Here are some amazing exercises that will keep your body in tip-top condition and take your workout routine to the next level.

1. Neck stretch

    While sitting tall or standing, place your right arm gently on the right side of your head and place the other arm straightly on your side.

    • Slowly pull your head towards your right shoulder until you can feel the stretch on the left side of your neck.
    • Hold for about 30 seconds before releasing.
    • Repeat for the opposite side.

    2. Chest Stretch

      Stand right, with your fingers interlocked behind your back, near your buttocks.

      • While keeping your shoulder blades together and your back straight, push your arms up behind you, until you feel the stretch in your chest.
      • Hold for about 20-30 seconds before releasing.

      3. Cross-body shoulder stretch

        Stand right or sit tall

        • Extend one arm to your front to shoulder height.
        • Grab the extended arm with your other arm and pull it towards your chest while keeping the extended arm straight.
        • Continue the pull until you feel the stretch in your shoulder.
        • Hold for 30 seconds and repeat for the other arm.

        4. Triceps stretch

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          • Lift your arms overhead with both arms slightly behind your head and bent at the elbow.
          • Use your right hand to pull your left elbow until you feel a stretch in your triceps.
          • Hold for about 30 seconds and repeat for the other arm.

          5. Biceps stretch

            • Sit on the floor with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
            • With your fingers pointing away from your body, place your two palms flat on the floor behind you.
            • While your hands are steadily in place, slowly slide your butt downward toward your feet until you can feel the stretch in your biceps, shoulders and chest.
            • Hold for about 30 seconds before release.

            6. Wrist stretch

              • While Standing straight or sitting tall, extend your right arm forward to shoulder height with your fingers pointing towards the ceiling.
              • Grab your right fingers with your left hand and pull your right hand to bend the wrist until you can feel the stretch
              • Hold this position for about 30 seconds and repeat for the opposite arm.

              7. Side stretch

                • Stand straight with your feet hip-wide apart.
                • Take your right arm and reach over your head towards your left side while bending your side.
                • Keep bending your side slowly until you can feel a stretch on your right side.
                • Maintain this position for about 30 seconds and repeat for the opposite side.

                8. Abdominal stretch

                  • Lie down on your stomach with your face towards the ground and your palms facing the floor as though you’re about to do a push up.
                  • While keeping your pelvis firmly on the floor, gently push up your upper body from the ground. This should make your feel some stretch in your abs.
                  • Maintain this position for about 30 seconds before releasing.

                  9. Reclined spinal twist

                    • Lie down facing the ceiling, with your arms extended to the sides and placed on the floor.
                    • While keeping the right leg extended, pull up your left knee towards your chest, tilt it toward your right side and then drop it slowly over your extended right leg.
                    • Keep your shoulder blades flat on the ground and you should feel the stretch around your back
                    • Hold for about 30 seconds and repeat for the opposite side.

                    10. Low-back stretch

                      • Lie on the ground facing the ceiling, with your knees bent.
                      • Hold your shins and pull up your knees toward your chest.
                      • This should make you feel some stretch in your lower back.
                      • Hold for about 30 seconds before releasing.

                      11. Hip flexor stretch

                        • Stand right in a standard lunge position.
                        • Place your two hands on your hips.
                        • Step out on your right foot into mini-lunge position, without your knee going beyond your right toe.
                        • Hold for about 30 seconds and repeat for the left side.

                        12. Glutes stretch

                          • Sit tall on the ground with both knees bent and both feet on the floor.
                          • Lift your right leg and cross it over your left thigh, while your left knee remains bent.
                          • Pull both legs inwards toward your abdomen for a deep stretch of your glutes.
                          • Hold this position for about 30 seconds and repeat with the other leg.

                          13. Quadriceps stretch

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                            • Stand tall while maintaining a straight posture.
                            • With your left hand, grab a pole, wall or anything durable for balance.
                            • With your right hand, grab your right foot and pull up your heels until they touch your buttocks.
                            • Keep your knees close together while doing this and you should feel the stretch in your quadriceps.
                            • Hold this position for about 30 seconds and repeat for the other side.

                            14. Hamstring stretch

                              • Sit on the floor with your right leg extended straight in front of you and your left leg bent.
                              • Reach forward with your right hand and touch your right toes. This should cause a stretch in your right hamstring.
                              • Hold this position for about 30 seconds and repeat for the left leg.
                              • If you’re unable to reach your toes, try holding your shin instead but seek to go further every time you perform the stretch until you can touch your toes.

                              15. Calf stretch

                                • Sit on the ground and extend your right foot straight in front of you.
                                • Gently pull your right toes backwards with your right hand. This should cause a noticeable stretch in your calf.
                                • Hold this position for about 30 seconds and repeat for the left leg.
                                • If you’re unable to reach your toes, use a rope or towel to pull your toes inward.

                                When should you be doing static stretches?

                                Static stretching is great…when done correctly and at the right time. Over the years, research has shown that static stretching produces best results when done after working out or on rest days,[6] but not as a part of warm up exercises before an explosive workout session.

                                This is because static stretching exercises have a “cool-down” effect on the muscles and are more effective when done after the muscles are already warm.

                                So, does that mean you must never ever perform static stretches before working out? Certainly not! You can, but it should be kept to the barest minimum.

                                Dynamic stretches – that involve more movement – are generally recommended for warming up as it helps the body to prepare better for the work ahead.

                                The bottom line

                                Carving out the body of your dreams isn’t only about lifting weights and running, you need to keep your body “elastic” if you’re going to make the most of your training. And that’s the whole point of stretching exercises.

                                So, starting today, be sure to incorporate these static stretching exercises into your routine and in no time, you’ll find yourself recovering faster and performing better than ever before.

                                Just remember to keep these stretches a part of your post-workout dessert for maximum benefit.

                                You’ve got this!

                                Featured photo credit: Scott Broome via unsplash.com

                                Reference

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