Want to be a faster runner?

The key to gaining speed and power is stretching! Many athletes spend hours and hours working on their sport, long runs, weight training and nutrition, but somehow neglect the act of stretching.faster-runner-pic

This is a surefire way to halt improvements and sign up for an injury in the near future. Plus, you are robbing yourself from many benefits you would gain from just 15 minutes a day of solid concentrated stretching.

Be sure to warm up for 5-10 minutes before stretching to warm and loosen your muscles. Here are the best ways to target main body parts:

  1. Quadriceps Stretch – Lie on your right side with your right knee bent at a 90-degree angle. Bend your left leg and hold onto the ankle with your left hand. Gently pull your left heel in toward the left side of your butt. As soon as you feel a stretch in your left quad, slowly lower your left knee toward the floor behind your right knee. Hold for 15 seconds and repeat with the other leg.
  2. Hamstrings – Sit on the floor with one leg straight in front of you and the other leg bent (with the sole of the foot touching the inside thigh of the outstretched leg). Keep your back straight and lean forward from the hips. Slide your arms forward toward your outstretched foot. Stop when you feel a pull in the hamstring. Hold for 15 seconds and repeat with the other leg extended.
  3. Hips – Lie on your back. Bend your left leg and bring it toward you. Grasp your left knee gently with your right hand and pull it slightly down and to the right until you feel a stretch. Turn your head to the left. Your right leg should stay flat on the floor. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat with the other leg.
  4. Low Back – Lay flat on the floor with knees bent. Use your hands to pull them toward your chest. Lift your head and shoulders off the floor until your head is approximately six inches from your knees. Cross your ankles. Gently rock yourself back and forth in this position for 30 seconds.
  5. Calves – Stand an arm’s length away from a wall with your feet shoulder-width apart. Slide the left foot back approximately 18 inches, keeping the knee straight and both heels flat on the floor. Bend your right knee and slowly move your pelvis forward until you feel a stretch in the calf and Achilles of the left leg. Hold for 15 seconds and repeat with the other leg.

Here is a picture log of the above stretches: http://www.fairview.org/healthlibrary/content/stretch.gif

So get out there and start stretching, not only because it will make you a better athlete, less likely to get injured, but can also help you maintain flexibility to do all the other activities in your life.

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