Sprinters demand a lot from their bodies. They force them to explode with power, sustain fast pace and carry them across the finish line ahead of the competition. That's why it's important that sprinters take care of their muscles by helping them stay loose and flexible and by helping them recover properly. One way to achieve all of these is by stretching.
Sprinters and Stretching
All sprinters should have a plan for stretching before and after a workout. The simple act of lengthening a muscle or group of muscles fills the area with blood and oxygen, which restores muscles that have become torn and realigns imbalances. A stretched, flexible body is more efficient, sees greater gains in strength and endurance, has a greater range of motion, is less prone to injury and recovers faster -- all important for healthy, powerful sprinters.
Effectiveness of Stretching
According to Runner's World, by increasing flexibility, runners can enhance their performance without increasing their mileage or spending more time on the track. And for sprinters, stretching becomes even more effective as it can bring increased muscle control, flexibility and range of motion. Former University of Washington sprints coach LaMonte Vaughn puts it this way: вЂњFor sprinters, stretching will allow muscles and the body to recover in a more efficient manner for the next practice and competition.вЂќ
Stretching Before a Workout
The effects of stretching before a sprinting workout or race are increased blood flow to the muscles, greater range of motion and increased flexibility. Stretching should be done after warm-up exercises and repeated between drills to decrease the risk of injuries such as muscle pulls and tears. Sprinters should focus on stretching the entire body with special emphasis on the lower body: the hips, glutes, hamstrings, calves, quads and lower back.
Stretching After a Workout
With stretching's ability to increase blood flow to muscles, it becomes a valuable part of any post-workout routine. By increasing the blood flow in the area, it helps the muscles recover faster and speeds the body's ability to repair the tiny muscle tears created during the workout. The same muscles stretched before the workout should be stretched after, and none of the motions should be rushed. Avoid bouncing, never stretch through unusual pain, and always consult your coach or a physician before attempting new stretches or changing your workout routine.