Proper stretching, early preparation key for marathon success

When the starting pistol pierces the cold air on December 13, thousands of runners will begin their trek towards the finish line of the fifth annual Baylor Scott & White Health BCS Marathon.

While many participants are seasoned athletes who know how to prepare for an event like this, new marathoners might not realize the importance of preparing ahead of time for such a lengthy run. By participating, both seasoned athletes and new runners will be supporting local charities, and that adds another layer to why they run.

To prepare these newbie runners, and remind marathon veterans, Baylor Scott & White Health physical therapists are hosting a seminar on Nov. 18 entitled Proper Stretching Techniques and Injury Prevention.

“If you don’t stretch properly, you risk injury which could limit or inhibit your running,” said BSWH physical therapist, Amy Broome. “Stretching increases the oxygen delivery to the muscles, decreases cramping and assists in more efficient running.”

The seminar will focus on proper stretching techniques for runners including static and dynamic stretches.

“Dynamic stretches are better for before running to increase blood flow and muscle temperature in preparation for running,” Broome said. “Static stretching is more appropriate for after to promote muscle lengthening and relaxation.”

Some examples of these stretches include:

Dynamic

  • High kick walls (like marching)
  • Walking lunges
  • Reverse lunges “butt kickers” (flex the knee and kick backwards)

Static

  • Shoulder stretches (reaching above the head with fingers interlocking)
  • Chest stretches (reach behind your back, straightening elbows and clasping hands together)
  • Quadriceps stretch (grab ankle and pull heel into butt)

Broome said practicing the proper stretches is important for preventing injury, but it’s also important to prepare your body ahead of time for the toll a marathon takes on the body.

“Proper training, nutrition and hydration before and during the race aides in stamina,” the physical therapist said. “It’s also important to get enough rest and have a training program.”

Some training programs begin anywhere from three to six months before the race.

“There are also running clubs in most areas that can assist in training and facilitating better running as well as more formal training for all types of runs.”

If potential marathoners are looking for more information about the Baylor Scott & White Health BCS Marathon or the injury prevention seminar, visit bcsmarathon.com.

About the author

Jessa McClure
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Jessa McClure holds a degree in journalism and mass communication from the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor in Belton, TX, where she is currently an adviser for student publications. She has been a writer in the health care field since 2009.

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Proper stretching, early preparation key for marathon success