We all know runners are keen to avoid injury, especially those who have only recently started running. Studies have shown that new runners are most likely to discontinue running due to small injuries. Fortunately, avoiding injuries is not beyond any runner. An array of workouts can strengthen your body, but running needs stretching and recovery too. Below are some unique stretches that are ideal for runners and meant to thwart injury.
This one works on your hip rotators, hip flexors and spine. Begin by getting into a plank position and bringing your left foot near the outside of your left hand. Let your hips sink down and hold this position to stretch the muscles well. Go back to the starting position and repeat this exercise on the right side. Instead of going back to the starting position, bring the left foot forward too so you are in a deep squat position. Now exhale, and rise up while spreading your clasped arms over your head and leaning backward. Return to standing and repeat for about 5-10 times depending on your experience. This workout helps you fortify the lower back and hip regions to thwart injury, while the deep squat movement also makes your glutes stronger.
These kicks strengthen your hamstrings, hip flexors and calve muscles and reduces the risk of side stitches or cramps, or any hamstring-related injury. Stand straight with your arms out to form a T. Bring your right knee towards your chest on the left hand side and simultaneously extend your hamstring and spin your spine. Go back to the starting position, and repeat 10 times on each side.
Mini Jump and Squat
This one works on your glutes, hamstring, calves and lower abdominals. Stand in a regular squat position and jump a few inches off the ground. Land on both feet and tuck your pelvis as you land. Don’t bend from your knees. After the 10th jump, land in a wide-legged squat with feet pointed out.
Three-Way Hip Swing
While your hips muscles and joint are very crucial, the larger risk of injury comes from runner’s knee very common among new runners. This exercise targets both your hips and knees. Begin by holding onto a wall or chair and placing one of your hands on the wall or the side of the chair. With your core activated, kick the leg furthest away from the chair forward till it rises off the floor and comes up to hip height or higher. Swing back in the same motion to kick your leg behind you as high as possible. Keep your legs straight and after two swings, hold on to the heel when it’s near your buttocks, and stretch. After 3-5 reps, switch and then repeat for the other side.
Main image: Timothy Burgess/Courtesy of Kayla Itsines