This video came about as a student of mine asked if they should stretch before a run, which is a good question. There are a lot of opinions out there and some say yes,and others say no as it affects the person’s performance. My thoughts are, short answer is yes but the long answer not first thing if your muscles are cold and you have been sedentary or just have woken up, as if you are like me and go for a run first thing in the morning your muscles will be cold. When the muscles are cold is when we tend to see a greater chance for injuries. This is not just for runners but for any type of physical activity.
Here is what I do to warm up beforehand and this is not just for stretches for running but also for my own yoga practice or any other activity or sport. It is simple, I do sun salutes. Why sun salutes? They create heat in the body, start to warm up the muscles, ligaments and joints, bring awareness to the body and state of mind and brings attention to the body/breath connection. For running I do sun salutes b because it has chair pose (Utkatasana) and warrior 1 (Virabhadrasana I). Chair pose is great to help warm up and strengthen the ankles, calves, thighs and core connection which brings that awareness of muscle engagement into these areas. Warrior 1 taps into the groin (psoas muscle) creating a good stretch and strength.
It also creates strength and stretches as well in the ankles, calves and thighs. With sun salutes b this really gets a good warm up of these major muscles and joints which is a great way for runners to warm up. If you don’t have time for anything else, this alone can be your warmup.
The next question is how many should I do? It all depends on the season and person as our bodies differ from person to person. During the summer months I’ll do two to three rounds and in the winter months more like three to five rounds. If you are short on time one to two rounds of the sun salute b is better than nothing.
How long should you hold the stretches is the next question I get asked. For a pre-run warm up and stretch, the stretches are done for a short period like 10-15 seconds or 5 breaths. Otherwise if you hold for longer periods it may affect your performance. The longer stretches are for the post-run. The post-run stretch is where you hold them for longer periods like 30-60 seconds or 10+ breaths.
In this video there is a combination of movement and sedentary stretches. Keep in mind you should never bounce or do a pulse action when warming up. Things you may need or use in this video are yoga blocks or a wall and possibly a blanket or something to support the knee.
As I have stated earlier the video will start with some rounds of sun salute B. Keep an eye out in the corner of the video as this will show some modification options. Then we will warm up the ankle joint and calf, then some warming up of the hamstrings and some side body stretches. At times we tend to focus a lot on the bottom half of the body and forget about the upper half of the body. Next, we move down on to the floor to work our front hip flexor but also adding some shoulder openers, along with opening the front body creating a little balance within the whole body then just focusing on one area in the body. Then we move on to a hamstring stretch then a combo movement with the front hip flexor. This movement helps to warm up the movement for running but we also need to bring balance in the hip joint by creating a gentle motion of rocking through the hip joint to warm up the hip, followed by some stillness stretches with the abductors and the glutes. The big finish off is a good quadriceps stretch of shin up the wall. Now your body is warmed up and you are ready for your run!
Any of the props seen in the video are for sale in my shop page.
Enjoy the journey!