Did you know it's important to stretch AFTER a workout? I had no idea. Even yesterday, I was doing all my stretching before my run. When my C25K app program ended, I simply hopped in my car and drove home.

Then I read this by today's guest blogger, Laura McElrath from the Akron Marathon. Read it carefully and save yourself a whole lot of pain and disappointment later. Most of us are hoping to run all three Akron Marathon Race Series events this year, so we've got to take good care of our bodies so we can make it through September!

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Before you work out...

The goal of pre-workout stretching is to make sure your body can move through the full range of motion necessary for the workout, not to increase flexibility. Use dynamic movements, not your old "sit on the floor and reach for your toes" like you did in gym class. Instead, walk while raising your knees high. Then walk with raising your knees and then rotating them to the outside. Then walk with keeping your knee pointed down and kicking your heel towards your butt.

After you work out...

This is when you do more traditional stretching, with the goal of increasing flexibility. Hold various positions and try and relax into the stretch. See the graphic below. Focus on the key areas that tend to get tight. Hip flexor, quads, hamstrings, calves, and lower back. Do not force a stretch! Go as far as you feel comfortable. And do not statically stretch a cold muscle. Gaining flexibility takes consistency and needs to be done several times a week to see improvement.

Find more information about pre- and post- workout routines here: http://www.active.com/running/articles/5-key-stretches-for-runners

- Laura

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Now, if that didn't get your attention, maybe this will. Here's a testimonial from our BLB teamate Jim Merklin. Jim wanted to run an Akron Marathon relay in 2016. It would have been his first. But he tore his Achilles last April, something he attributes, in part, to lack of stretching.

"One thing Iíve learned the hard way is that this is an injury that, when you are in your 50s, really never gets fully recovered and always seems to require additional attention and care. Also, Iíve periodically experienced really bad Charley Horses in my calves, and my doctor tells me that diligence in stretching before exercise can help a lot to minimize those (along with supplements of potassium and making sure I stay well hydrated.) I readily acknowledge I still do NOT do enough stretching and I think all of the members of our BLB group should push each other to do this."

I agree. I've also heard others talk about leg cramps since we started, so let's fit these routines into our Saturday meetups.

- Paula