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Last Updated on November 27, 2020

11 Greatest Running Tips And Tricks

11 Greatest Running Tips And Tricks

Running is the new thing. People who never dreamed they would be runners are hammering out 5Ks and training for half-marathons. I am included in this recent running phenomenon. I could never run the full-mile test in gym class, but in the past couple of years I caught the running bug. I have learned a few running tips since I started. You might want to check these out if you are beginning to run yourself.

Running Tip #1: Safety first.

Make sure to check with your doctor if you have any medical conditions that might prevent you from running safely.

Running Tip #2: Get some quality running shoes.

Nothing is worse than shin splints. Shin splints tend to happen when you do not have proper running shoes. You will probably already be sore starting a new exercise, but you do not want to add insult to injury by lacing up with the wrong footwear.

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Running Tip #3: Start slow.

There is no need to try to run 10 miles on your first run. Try the five on, five off method. Run for five minutes and walk for five minutes, for a total of 30 minutes. After a couple of weeks, you can slowly increase the running time and decrease the walking time.

Running Tip #4: Know that it is okay to walk.

It drives me nuts when new runners have a goal of “running x miles without stopping.” What they mean is, they don’t want to “stop” and walk during their run. The thing is, it is completely okay to walk. During the half-marathon I ran in May, I walked all of the water stations and I was glad I did. Walking during your running allows your body to take a small break and build up energy for your muscles to use while running. This method helps to prevent injuries that can easily occur while running long distances.

Running Tip #5: Sign up for a race.

There is nothing more motivating than a race. When you know that you have already spent the money and will have to be able to physically run x number of miles on that day, it is easier to get out the door and complete your training.

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Running Tip #6: Be sure to keep up with your strength-training and cross-training.

If you only perform one exercise over and over and over, the muscles you are not using, the supporting muscles, will become weak. These weakened muscles that are needed to support the main running muscles leave you wide open for injury. Get in strength-training sessions twice a week. Also make sure to do cross-training such as biking, stairs, or elliptical training once or twice a week to prevent injury.

Running Tip #7: Design a training plan.

If you are signed up for a race, you will need a plan. You have to run, strength-train, cross-train and have rest days each week, so it is best to come up with a way to accomplish all of this. I have always used Hal Higdon training plans since they are designed by experts. You can print them out and check off each day or even download them to your phone. They even have running training apps you can download to your phone.

Running Tip #8: Figure out your proper fueling.

Every body is different. Some runners are not able to eat certain foods right before running, while others have iron stomachs that never get sick. A basic rule of thumb is to eat something with carbohydrates an hour before running (it can even be a meal if you can stomach it), then eat more carbohydrates plus protein to replenish the energy lost when running within 30 minutes of finishing your run. When you are running for over an hour, you should consider taking Gatorade or something similar to replenish the sodium and potassium lost through sweat. If you are running over 90 minutes, it is time to consider refueling with a mixture of carbohydrates, sodium and potassium.

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Running Tip #9: Hydrate properly.

This is another one where it depends on your body. Most bodies require hydration every 30 minutes of exercise. Hydration during running also depends on the weather. Is it dry? Is it humid? Are you sweating like a maniac upon walking out your front door? I always have water with me and take small sips when I feel thirsty to ensure I do not get dehydrated.

Running Tip #10: Listen to your body.

If you are so sore you can hardly walk, maybe sit it out for a day or two. If you feel like you can run a little further than you planned, try it out! That is part of the fun of running—testing yourself.

Running Tip #11: Lastly, have fun.

It is hard to get motivated to exercise when you are not enjoying it. Figure out the way you enjoy running the most and stick with it. If you hit a running rut, try running with a friend, alternating between the treadmill and the outdoors, find a new trail, or even take a break to come back refreshed. The bottom line is: you do not have to run. You should exercise the way you like and the way that is safe for you. If running proves to be your choice of exercise, then join the club and run your heart out!

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Featured photo credit: Capstone Events via unsplash.com

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Amanda DeWitt

Writer. Photographer. Instagrammer. Future Educator.

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Last Updated on April 19, 2021

15 Static Stretches to Totally Enhance Your Workout Routine

15 Static Stretches 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. While they are great for both, static stretches can offer a boost to any workout routine for people of all fitness levels.

Irrespective of your reasons for working out, be it for sports or personal fitness, one thing is certain: stretching can help you. Static stretches come 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, we’ll zero in on several great static stretches and take a look at the benefits and when they should be done.

Benefits of Static Stretches

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

Improved Flexibility

If you want to perform better, flexibility is of tremendous importance, irrespective of the specific workouts you do. Luckily enough, static stretches are 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]

Although the specific mechanism through which this occurs is still unclear, static stretches have been shown to greatly increase muscle and joint flexibility[2] and tissue length[3], which work in tandem to make your workout more effective.

Prevent Injuries

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 again that performing the right stretches pre- and post-workout greatly helps with injury prevention.[4]

Think of it this way:

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.

Increased Blood Flow 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.

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

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 sore muscles for days.

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

Research has shown that practicing static stretches 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 reduced inflammation and faster repair of such tissues.

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

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

15 Static Stretches to Enhance Your Workouts

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 out to 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, and repeat for the opposite side.

    Many people tend to hold stress and tension in their neck and shoulders. If you find this is the case, this is one of the best static stretches to use for a muscle release in this area.

    2. Chest Stretch

      Stand upright, 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.

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      3. Cross-Body Shoulder Stretch

      Shoulder Cross-Arm Stretch « CASS FITNESS

        Stand upright or sit up tall on a chair or mat, and extend one arm out in 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 Static Stretch

          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.

          Many know this stretch from gym class, but it really is one of the best static stretches for the arms.

          5. Biceps Stretch

          Arm Exercises | Seated Bent-Knee 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 releasing.

            6. Wrist Stretch

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              While standing up straight or sitting tall, extend your right arm forward to shoulder height with your fingers pointing toward 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-width 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.

                The muscles down your side body are notoriously difficult to stretch out. This is one of the best static stretches to try on a consistent basis to get them loosened up.

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                8. Abdominal Static 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 your upper body up 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

                  Supta Matsyendrasana - Supine Spinal Twist - Yogaasan
                    Lie down, with your arms extended to the sides and placed on the floor. While keeping the right leg straight, 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. Knees to Chest

                    Knee-to-chest exercise from Physical Therapists' Advice to Manage Pain at Home - The Active Times

                      Lie on the ground facing the ceiling, with your knees bent. Hold your shins, and pull your knees toward your chest. This should make you feel some stretch in your lower back. Hold for about 30 seconds before releasing. If you’re looking to loosen up your back muscles, this is one of the static stretches you can do daily.

                      11. Hip Flexor Static Stretch

                      How to Do the Standing Lunge Stretch

                        Stand upright in a standard lunge position, and 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. Figure 4 Stretch

                        How to Do a Figure 4 Stretch | Openfit

                          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. Standing Quad Stretch

                            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.

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                            Keep your knees close together while doing this, push your hip forward, and you should feel the stretch in your quadriceps. Hold this position for about 30 seconds, and repeat for the other side. This is one of the best static stretches for the quads.

                            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.

                                Bonus: Stretch With a Resistance Band

                                Resistance bands offer a unique benefit from free weights and create tension throughout your movement. Get the free 30 Day Resistance Band Full Workout Challenge, and challenge yourself to stretch with a resistance band.

                                When Should You Do 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 routines before an explosive workout session.

                                This is because static stretches have a cool-down effect on each muscle group and are more effective when done after the muscles are already warm.

                                That doesn’t mean you must never ever perform static stretches before working out, but do it sparingly. Dynamic stretches, which involve more movement, are generally recommended for warming up as it helps the body 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 static stretches.

                                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.

                                More Tips on Stretching

                                Featured photo credit: Alora Griffiths via unsplash.com

                                Reference

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