This article originally appeared on Life by Daily Burn.
If you’re one of those runners who sprints away from a warm-up and cool-down as fast as you do a finish line, you’re missing out on some great benefits. Plus, you could be putting yourself at risk for injury.
According to Lauren Loberg, doctor of physical therapy and board certified clinical orthopedic specialist with TRIA Orthopaedic Center, an effective warm-up will prime your muscles for the run, therefore helping to prevent muscle strain and joint pain. Similarly, letting your body find its cool post-run allows your heart rate to drop back to normal, and is a great way to prevent muscle soreness.
Get into the habit of spending just a few extra minutes pre- and post-jog to stretch it out with the following moves. These running stretches are so quick and easy, you really have no excuse not to do them.
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3 Before-You-Go Running Stretches to Loosen Up
Flow through the following three stretches to get blood moving to common problem areas — like knees, hips and ankles — prior to your run. “Increased blood flow and warmth will make your tissue more pliable and your muscles ready to perform,” Loberg explains. Keep in mind: You don’t want to stick to a static hold with these stretches. (Save that for post-workout!) Instead, continuously move back and forth between sides.
1. Groin Stretch
How to: Stand with legs a few steps wider than shoulder-width apart (a). Shift to your weight to your right side, bending your knee to sink into a lateral lunge. Make sure the toes and the knee of your bent leg points straight ahead (b). Hold for 10-20 seconds before shifting to the other side. Repeat 3-4 times.
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2. Hamstring Stretch
How to: Begin standing with your feet together (a). Step one foot back about two feet. Hinge forward from the hips, keeping your back flat and both legs straight (b). Hold for 10-20 seconds before stepping the back leg through to the front and alternating sides. Repeat 3-4 times.
3. Ankle Circles
How to: Stand tall. Shift your weight to your right side and lift your left foot off the floor a few inches (a). Roll the ankle of your raised foot in a circular motion, making sure to roll in both directions (b). Alternate feet after 10-20 seconds. Repeat 3-4 times.
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3 Stretches to Bring Down Body Heat Post-Run
Loberg recommends these staple yoga moves to stretch out all the areas you taxed during your run — namely your hamstrings, calves, hips and quads. Move swiftly from one pose to the next, or reset in between each. For extra TLC after these stretches, use a foam roller to screen for areas that are especially tender…