Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Importance of Stretching

I started running back in April by training for a 5K in May. Then I ran another 5K in June. Over the summer I decided that I wanted to train to run a half marathon. I decided on running the Baltimore Half Marathon on October 15 and started training right away.

When I was training for my first 5K I was never sore. I had been an athlete all my life so training to run 3.1 miles was nothing too spectacular to push my body to do. Because of that, I never really stretched.

Even throughout my half marathon training, I was never sore and therefore did not stretch. I wasn't running very many miles so I just thought that stretching wasn't really going to be able to help me all that much.

Then race day came. I was feeling great up until mile 9ish and then I started to develop a terrible pain in my right now that almost caused me to walk the rest of the race. I was too determined to run the whole to stop and walk but I was really hurting.

I was sore the day after the race and I did some stretching. Then I started running again and discovered that the pain in my right knee was still there. I tried icing, stretching, advil, rest, and when none of those things were helping I decided to see an sports medicine orthopaedic surgeon.

He told me that I had aggravated my IT band and that I could have prevented this by stretching after each run. I felt so stupid. I had always known stretching was important but I neglected to do it because I was never sore or felt I needed to.

Well now I have been stretching before and after each run. I am trying to do everything possible to make this a little flare up and not an actual injury. I am even working on getting a foam roller to help with this process.

So let me go on the record and say that stretching is incredibly important and absolutely necessary to keeping your body healthy. Please, don't wait until it is too late like I did. It only takes a couple minutes to stretch after you run and your body will thank you for doing so.

What are your favorite/most helpful stretches? Do you stretch after every run?

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