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Stretch It!

A very important but often ignored part of running is stretching. Sure it's dull and no fun and we'd all rather be hitting the road than standing still trying to touch our toes. Nevertheless, if you stretch, you actually can become a more efficient runner, experience less soreness after a run, and help keep numerous running-related injuries at bay.

Having said that, stretching is a lot more than touching your toes and if done improperly, can cause some of those injuries you're trying to prevent. Here are a few basic stretching tips to keep in mind:
Do an easy warm-up 5-minute jog; then do your pre-run stretch.
Don't bounce. The stretch should be slow and gradual.
Hold the stretch for 15 to 30 seconds
Do not "push-through" the tightness and never stretch to the point of pain. (Over time, you'll be able to stretch further than you did initially.)
Stay relaxed and breathe while you stretch.

Newer thinking about stretching involves doing active stretches before running and saving the traditional static stretches for after the run. Active stretches stretch the muscles and tissues and prepare them for your run by simultaneously stretching and strengthening the joint throughout its range of motion. During an active stretch, the muscle develops tension while the overall length of the muscles increases. Lunges and squat stretches are good examples of active stretches.

For informaiton on stretchin before and after running, check out this video clip from