Regardless of how athletic you are, when you take up a new sport like running, you will feel some strain on your muscles, but that’s okay! We all know that when we start running, or change up our running routine, we have to build slowly; the best way to do this is to start with a few Ks and gradually increase each week, while checking in with your body.
Here is what you must remember as a new runner: you actually need EXTRA stretching pre-run and you can gradually decrease the amount as you become more comfortable with the sport. Here is why: while your muscles are getting used to the stress and strain of your new activity, these extra stretches will help to ease the transition and prevent avoidable injuries caused by working too hard too quickly. Your feet, ankle and calve muscles and tendons have likely been in hibernation and you have to wake them up slowly!
Turns out, us city yogis are not alone in our beliefs. Many athletic trainers stress the importance of dynamic stretching pre-run to warm-up and to help avoid injury. Ralph Reiff, sports director of Sports Performance at St Vincent Hospital in Indianapolis has worked with elite runners for many years. He confirms that a dynamic warm-up helps to improve range of motion. Physiologically, dynamic stretching is a way to stimulate the neurological system, which in turn activates the muscles, making them more resilient to external stimulus and leads to a quicker neurological response, Reiff explains. So if you do land on the pavement in an odd way and tweak or roll your ankle, that pre-dynamic movement may have helped prepare your ankle! Reiff, and other trainers and coaches, recommend that all runners perform dynamic stretching before every regular run.
Before you head out next, give your ankles some attention specifically, with these dynamic movements.
Sitting down, hold your right ankle in your hand and move it in circles clockwise 10 times. Then repeat in the opposite direction. Repeat this with your left foot. Once you have finished, stand up and circle your ankles 10 more times without the help of your hands. Then do it all over again!
Point and Flex
Standing, flex your right foot pulling your toes up as close to your shin as you can. Then point your toe downwards, feeling a stretch through the whole top of your shin and foot. Complete this dynamic motion with your right ankle 15-20 times. Move through the flex and point slowly, ensuring you feel the stretch each time. Repeat this with your left ankle.
Pick a mantra that helps you run! “I am strong” or “I can do this” are perfect examples. Then, while standing, and pointing your toe, attempt to “write” this mantra with your right foot. If you can, write in cursive so your movements are full and fluid. Again, take your time writing your mantra with each foot, to ensure you are utilizing the full range of motion with each ankle.