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marathon, running basics, Sports, Training

Inflexibility Hinders Performance and Causes Injuries

By Alix J. Shutello

Are you inflexible? Do you know if you are? Here are some signs. It really hurts when you try to stretch your hamstrings past the ninety degree mark when you are on your back. You cannot touch your toes. Yoga to you is a four letter word.

You could be inflexbile.

Running is one of those sports people just kind of pick up for a variety of reasons.  If someone decides they like running they may start to train with no direction at all.  What running experts say is that we need to build strength and endurance to perform well, but since most runners start training without a coach, our best intentions lead to a training regimen that contributes to training failures and injury.

Tight hamstrings in particular, are common in runners with flexibility issues and/or poor running form. When a runner’s flexibility is hindered by tightness or pain their running efficiency is reduced and hence, their speed.

Being loose is important.  Joe Jurczyk, an ultra distance racer, ultra distance race director, and middle school age cross country coach will concur.  “Runners can increase their pace by three to five percent merely by being loose.”

You stay loose by stretching but stretching has gotten a bad name over the years. Gone are the days when we hang our leg over a fence and push down for a minute to stretch our hamstrings….at least not before our runs. Dynamic stretching involving active movement helps loosen muscles before we exert ourselves.  Kimberly Linton, a personal trainer in Woodbridge, VA has shown me some excellent dynamic moves I can do before I start my run. I do them almost every day, whether I am running or not.

The benefits of working with a trainer, coach or physical therapist are that they can help you see where you are weak and can help with stretching. In Cathy Walker’s article, Why Flexibility Is So Important, on the Runners Illustrated website, you can read about Fascial Stretch Therapy, a stretching therapy did more than stretch out ultra distance man, Kevin Cutjar, it enabled him win his age group and place for Ironman Hawaii in 2009, win and break multiple Ultraman Canada records in 2010 and place 9th and get top master status in the recent 2010 Las Vegas Rock ‘N Roll Marathon.

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