Posted by: Joe English | September 6, 2010

Short Answer Mondays: Stretching and Carrying Water & Energy Gels

running-advice-bugIt’s time for another edition of Short Answer Monday, where we tackle more reader questions. This week we look for a quick solution to stretching and we take a look at how to carry food and fuel with you when running long.

Question 1 comes from Lisa:

“Quick, I only have a few minutes to stretch before my run and a few minutes after my run. What are your favorite 3-5 stretches for those times when time is lacking.”

First Lisa, it is nice to hear that when you’re pressed for time you’re still trying to work some stretching in. Most runners, quite honestly, don’t stretch at all. There is a lot of debate over the need to stretch and what it really does for you, but let’s just assume for the sake of this answer that some stretching is a good thing. For those of you that need a basic refresher on how to stretch, start by reading a short article on the basics of stretching which includes a link to a video at the end.

Picking out a couple of stretches for runners that are in a hurry depends a bit on who you are as a runner and your body type. For beginning runners, the most important stretches are the ones that focus on the shins, calves, lower legs and feet. Beginners need to stretch these areas to avoid getting shin splints, because inflexibility in the calf muscle in particular tends to lead to shin splints. Stretching the feet is also important for beginners to avoid a condition called plantars fasciitis, which is an inflammation in the bottom of the feet.

For more advanced runners, the stretches that would be most important would include the 1) calf muscle, 2) soleius muscle (the lower part of the calf), 3) the hamstrings (the muscles in the back of the leg) and 4) the quadriceps muscle (the muscles in the front of the leg).

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