These simple moves will help you avoid running injuries by improving flexibility.
You’ll do these dynamic stretches before every run because, at FIRST, we believe that improving range of motion is an essential component of fitness training. The risk factors associated with poor flexibility include faulty posture, altered running mechanics, and risk of injury and pain. That’s why we recommend stretching every day – it’s just that important.
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At the Furman Institute of Running and Scientific Training (FIRST) in Greenville, South Carolina, US, we hear from runners who want to get faster, from those who simply want to enjoy the sport for life, and from those who’ve given up on running entirely. They’ve stopped because injuries have made it too frustrating or too painful to continue.
The two of us – both longtime runners – spend a lot of time discussing what we can do now to increase the likelihood that we’ll keep running well into old age. We want to be able to keep doing what we love to do – and that’s probably a goal of yours, too.
Based on our experiences as athletes, coaches, and exercise scientists, we developed the 7-Hour Workout Week, which is detailed in our new book Train Smart, Run Forever. The plan includes activities to enhance cardiorespiratory endurance, muscular strength and endurance, and flexibility. Many runners have confessed that they skip the resistance training, stretching, and cross-training we recommend, but these exercises are critical for staying healthy as you become fitter and faster.
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This workout was adapted from Runner’s World Train Smart, Run Forever: How to Become a Fit and Healthy Lifelong Runner by Following the Innovative 7-Hour Workout Week, by the Experts at FIRST, Bill Pierce and Scott Murr (Rodale).
With both feet forward, take a wide step to the left. Bend your left knee as you shift your weight over your left foot. Return to standing. Repeat for 30 seconds, then switch sides.
Single-Leg Dead Lift
Stand on your left leg with your knee slightly bent. Slowly hinge forward until your torso and right leg are parallel to the floor. Return to standing. Repeat for 30 seconds, then switch sides.
Straight-Leg Lateral Swing
With your hands on a wall, keep your right leg straight and swing it across the front of your body in a rhythmic motion. Do 12 reps, then switch sides.
Bent-Knee Lateral Swing
With your hands on a wall, bend your right knee at a 90-degree angle, and drive it toward your left shoulder and then your right. Do 12 reps, then switch sides.
Bent-Knee Forward Swing
With your hands on a wall, bend your right knee at a 90-degree angle, and drive it toward and away from your chest. Do 12 reps, then switch sides.