Running uses most of the muscles in the body but for obvious reasons today we will focus on the muscle groups in the legs. The quadriceps are powerful extensors of the knee, the extent to which a person extends their knee to take a stride depends on the person but no matter who you are the four muscle that make up the quadriceps need to be stretched affectively before running. However if a person’s walking or running stride is shorter this is usual due to shortening of the hamstrings. Finally the lower half of the leg affects knee flexion and plantaflexion and if not stretched properly can cause calf tightness.
A PNF stretch that will be affective for a runner will be the Quadratus Lumborum. This muscle is involved in lateral flexion of the truck and balance, required when running. The PNF stretch is a great pain free way to stretch the vertical fibers of the muscle which make up the bulk of this muscle.
To do this stretch the stretcher is lying on their left side with their right leg hyperextended off the edge of a table. Make sure their hips remain stacked vertically on top of each other and reach their right hand over their head. The partner stands behind the stretcher and crosses their hands so their left hand is against the stretchers hip and their right hand is spread wide across the rib cage. The stretcher needs to then bring their hip and ribs towards each other, this may need to be broken into separate movements before the stretcher can move them at the same time. Once they have the hang of it the stretcher should begin slowly and try to bring the top of their hip and their rib cage together as the partner provides matching resistance. The stretcher should then relax and inhale deeply. On the exhale the stretcher should try and push their foot towards the floor to deepen the stretch.
Obviously we could not include every stretch required for this sport instead this blog will aimed to cover the main stretches used and maybe a few you may not have thought of previously. Please remember to follow the safe stretching tips we have given you in the previous blog as well as the individual safety tips for static and PNF stretching.
Images taken from "Lower Body Stretches" wall chart by B. Walker.