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Body

Feeling Primed To Jog with This Energetic Stretch

Prior to commencing a jog, stretching usually falls under the “need to do” category, not the “wish to do” category. I’m just excited to utilize my energy and hit the trail, you know?

However, there is one stretch that I truly enjoy, as it instills in me a sense of strength and preparedness for the starting line. This stretching exercise is known as “single leg hip hinges,” or commonly referred to as “runner touches.”

For this routine, you stand on one leg, then lean your torso forward and raise the non-standing leg backward until both are parallel to the ground. Essentially, you find yourself in a Warrior 3 position, forming a “T” shape with your body (your standing leg acting as the base, and your leaning upper body and raised leg as the top). Then, by activating your core, you return to a standing position, bringing the raised leg bent and in front of you, resembling a runner’s pose with a high knee lift.

This stretch mimics the motion of a single stride. Repeat this for 30 seconds on one side, then switch to the other leg.

This procedure falls within the realm of dynamic stretching, which involves engaging and stretching the muscles simultaneously. This dual action is what makes dynamic stretches highly effective for preparing the body for physical activity.

“Dynamic stretching differs from static stretching in that you are not holding a position like in static stretching, but actively moving in and out of the stretch, thereby engaging and stimulating the muscles being utilized,” states Azul Corajoria, a certified health coach and personal trainer. “An effective dynamic stretch targets the muscles you are about to engage, enhancing range of motion and blood circulation.”

Considering that this stretch culminates in a freeze-frame of your running motion, it is logical that it aids in conditioning your muscles for the activity.

“This stretch gently elongates the posterior chain muscles (hamstrings, glutes, and back) throughout a full range of motion as you lean forward, and then requires the activation and contraction of these muscles as you return to the starting position,” Corajoria explains. “Additionally, it is an excellent exercise as it compels you to engage your core to uphold proper form.”

From a functionality standpoint, these movements serve as an excellent warm-up before running. However, what is it about them that I particularly *enjoy*? The sensation of the stretch in my hamstring on the standing leg as I lean forward is satisfying. Yet, what I truly relish is the ascent back up. Executed slowly and deliberately, I can almost sense every muscle in my leg—from the large quadriceps to the minuscule muscles in my ankles—springing into action. It imparts a feeling of strength and agility, as if I am poised to surge ahead and commence running.

Corajoria suggests that there may be some biological mechanism at play. This stretch helps in alleviating tightness and stress, “while the surge in blood circulation and oxygen in our bodies can stimulate the secretion of endorphins and serotonin (the ‘feel good’ hormones). Our bodies are designed to be in motion, they crave movement.”

This stretch is a gentle reminder of precisely that: my body is prepared to move, ready to run.

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