Dynamic hamstring stretches prepare your muscles for your upcoming run.
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Taking a daily run can clear your mind and burn enough calories to contribute positively to weight loss. But before you hit the road, devote a few minutes for stretching to ready your body for the upcoming workout and to reduce your risk of injury. It is particularly important to properly stretch your hamstrings, which play an integral role in running stride.
Make it Dynamic
Not every type of hamstring stretch is suitable before your run. Do dynamic stretches instead of static stretches before your workout. Dynamic stretches involve actively moving joints through a range of motion, unlike static stretches during which you hold a position for a short period of time. Not only do dynamic stretches warm up your muscles for further exercise, they also elevate your heart rate to increase your blood flow. This type of stretch also stimulates your nervous system.
Lunge and Squat for Flexibility
Lunges and squats are effective dynamic stretches for your hamstrings. For the lunge, stand up straight and take a large step forward with your left foot. As you step, bend your knees until your left thigh is parallel to the ground and your right knee is a few inches off the ground behind you. Step back to the starting position and repeat the exercise but this time with your right foot forward. Partial squats are also ideal for warming up your hamstrings. Stand up straight. Instead of lowering your body until your thighs are parallel to the ground, bend only until your thighs form a 45-degree angle.
Kick It Up a Notch
Leg kicks are ideal to perform before you start your run. This dynamic stretch requires you to stand upright and swing one leg at a time. Hold your left arm straight out in front of you and attempt to kick your fingers with your right foot when you swing it forward. If you can't quite raise your toes high enough, continue swinging your foot back and forth until you further loosen your hamstrings. Do this move for both legs.
Don't Short Yourself
Even if you're anxious to begin your run, don't cut your pre-workout stretches short. Do each exercise 10 times on each leg. Your stretching routine should take at least 5 minutes and should include more than just hamstring stretches. After your run, static stretches are suitable for cooling down. Hold each static stretch for about 30 seconds to give your muscle fibers adequate time to lengthen.