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Running is a sport enjoyed by many. It’s a great way to lose weight, stay in shape, be among nature, and simply feel good about yourself. However, along with this endeavor comes the potential for injury, especially if you are not training correctly or have sloppy running form. While some might argue that the best way to avoid running injuries is to simply not run at all, for those of us who have caught the running bug, that’s just not an option.
I have been running for many, many years and am blessed to have avoided injuries related to my obsession. I have always presumed that since I began this discipline as a pre-teenager, that I simply “grew into” the sport and my body readily adapted, achieving optimum form while becoming accustomed to the constant pounding on hard surfaces.
However, I will be the first to admit that I do not stretch. Am I lazy? Perhaps. I just don’t like to take the time to do that, even though I know it is a good habit into which to get to avoid muscle injuries while running.
A few important stretches include the calf stretch, heel drops, the leg pendulum, and walking lunges. Every time I compete in a race, I witness hundreds of people engaging in these pre-race workouts while I stand in line at the port-a-potty. I figure I will get my stretching as I try to maneuver myself in that confined space!
When doing the calf stretch, you can either stand up or sit down. Simply put one leg forward and then stretch the other leg behind you. Be sure the leg you are stretching behind yourself is straight. Push asking the wall to stretch it even further. Count to 10 and then do the same with the other leg. Repeat this several times. Warning: do not attempt to do this against a port-a-potty, as you may knock it over!
Heel drops are important in preventing Achilles tendinitis. Who wants an injury to the heel tendons? For this exercise, stand on a curb with the front part of your feet. Then, slowly drop your heels towards the ground and count to 10 and then lift them back up. Do this a few times. You can also perform this exercise indoors while standing on the stairs.