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You Asked: When to Stretch?


Hiya Fit,
I still consider myself to be a novice runner and am plagued with lower leg issues — mainly shin splints. I realize how important stretching is to prevent these types of issues but am just confused on when to stretch. So, I've got a question for you. For a runner, what are the best stretches to do before a run, the best stretches for right after a run, and the best stretches for rest days?
Thanks!
— Running Newbie

This is a great question, especially since stretching has long been associated with warming up. Learn when to stretch when you read more.

Stretching is a great way to increase flexibility, but is best done after you run or work out when your muscles are warm and pliable. This doesn't mean you skip warming up. The best way to prepare your body for running is to walk briskly or jog slowly for five to 10 minutes. This really applies to all kinds of cardio workouts: warm up with an easier form of what you will be doing. Bike in an easy gear or use the elliptical with low resistance and slight incline. Also consider doing a dynamic warmup for running, by doing slow and exaggerated motions of running: high marches, butt kicks, heel walks, toe walks, and then some walking lunges.

When you are done with your run — remember to cool down by going more slowly for the last five to 10 minutes, depending on the length of your run, to get your heart rate down — you should stretch. Here are some stretches I recommend post-run. As for shin splints, make sure to keep your calves flexible with these stretches, which you can do every day after you've walked for a bit, and check your gait. Here are some tips to help prevent shin splints.

Have fun running!

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