There are all kinds of little tips and tricks that you can try out to help you get a little more wind in your hair (i.e. move way faster) while you’re running. But even with all of the speed training under your belt – or, more appropriately, your compression shorts – there may be one super simple, speed-hacking thing that you’re neglecting: stretching. Specifically, your hip flexors.
Here’s the deal: basically, your running speed comes down to two primary factors, those being the length and the rate of your strides. Which is all well and good when you’re all warmed up and ready to go. But when your hip flexors are tight – i.e. if you haven’t properly stretched them out before hitting the track, or the pavement, or wherever it is that you’re jogging or sprinting it out – your range of motion is going to be inhibited. And that, naturally, is going to get in the way of both your stride length and rate.
Of course, this means that stretching your hip flexors is always going to be a good idea before a run, but the fact is even more crucial given how most of us tend to spend a huge chunk of our days. Namely, at a desk. If you work in an office – as most of us do – then you’re likely spending a big portion of your day sitting down, which really isn’t good news for your muscles and will mean that you’re especially in need of a pre-run stretch to regain a full range of motion and good form.
So just how can you be sure if you’re in need of a stretch before heading out on your run? Simple: just lie down on your stomach, and lift each leg up behind you. If you’re able to lift each leg to about a 30-degree angle, then that means that your muscles are good to go. If you fall short, though, it means that your hip flexors are a bit tight and in need of some stretching. If that’s the case, simply warm them up with a few targeted stretches – think a butterfly stretch, or a happy baby pose – that will have you ready to run in no time.