Why people love to run...
About 50 million Americans (or 15 percent of the U.S. population) participate in some form of running or jogging, according to to a 2020 report from the Sports & Fitness Industry Association. Over the last decade running has grown about 57%. Worldwide about 1.1 million people complete a marathon yearly.
Running can be particularly addictive because of what is known as “runner's high,” the elated feeling that results from hormones in the body getting released from physical activity and endorphins.
According to Health line:
"A runner’s high is a brief, deeply relaxing state of euphoria. Euphoria is a sense of extreme joy or delight. In this case, it occurs after intense or lengthy exercise. Often, people who experience a runner’s high also report feeling less anxiety and pain immediately after their run."
"A runner’s high isn’t the only possible benefit of running or exercising. Indeed, there are several physical benefits caused by the chemicals released when you’re running, and they’re not all related to your cardiovascular system.
Running and aerobic exercise release a flood of endorphins into your blood. Endorphins are often called the “feel-good” chemicals because they produce feelings of happiness and pleasure.
They also help you feel less pain while you’re running. That can act as a natural pain reliever, helping you endure longer periods of exercise.
For decades, scientists believed endorphins were responsible for a runner’s high. It makes sense — they do have a great deal of beneficial effects.
But in recent years, research has revealed that endorphins may not have much to do with it after all. Instead, new research points to another type of molecule: endocannabinoids.
These molecules act on your endocannabinoid system. This is the same system that’s affected by tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active compound in cannabis.
Like endorphins, exercise releases endocannabinoids into the bloodstream. If you feel euphoric or deeply relaxed after a run, these molecules may be the responsible party."
In short, running is a great form of aerobic exercise, it produces endorphins and / endocannabinoids, and it makes your pain disappear (at least temporarily) as you experience a runner's high.
Running makes you feel great... but the injuries can be significant!
According to the Cleveland Clinic, these are the 6 most common injuries from running:
- Plantar fasciitis.
- Runners’ knee.
- Iliotibial band (ITB) syndrome.
- Achilles tendonitis.
- Shin splints.
- Stress fractures.
"Up to 60% of runners have or will experience an injury severe enough for them to put away their running shoes for several weeks or months."
The Cleveland Clinic adds:
"But ironically, shoes play the biggest role in injury prevention when it comes to running.
"'Running shoes are the only protective equipment runners have to safeguard themselves from injury,' says Dr. Scarcella. 'So choosing the correct running shoe is important."'
At Bendable Body we respectfully disagree. Shoes do not play the biggest role in injury prevention when it comes to running. Consider barefoot running - still practiced in parts of Africa and Latin America. People who run barefoot have less chance of developing plantar fasciitis.
Your best protective equipment for injury prevention when it comes to running is you... your body. Specifically your qaudriceps.
Is it better to stretch before or after running and does stretching actually help with running?
How to stretch for running and what's better - stretches before/after/pre or post running? These are really common questions that so many people ask.
There are a number of traditional stretches out there - dynamic stretches for running, morning stretches for running, warm up for a run...
But at Bendable Body, we have one goal in mind and that's to keep you doing the things you love to do. And we know that over time running creates a lot of wear and tear on the body, particularly the joints. The best way to keep you running, injury free, for as long as you want to, is to help you keep the muscles working that you need to run... so that your running doesn't go excessively into your joints and you don't end up with knee pain or hip pain. The most important muscle group involved in running is the quadriceps.
So is it better to stretch before / pre-running or after / post-running. Both are good. If you want to see an improvement in performance, stretch before you run. If you want to recover faster and take the wear and tear of running out of your body, stretch after you run. We often encourage people to test both and check in with your body to see which you prefer. Base your stretching practices on what is happening in your body. If you are experiencing a lot of pain and injury you might want to stretch both before and after, but be careful not to then overdue on your run with the increased flexibility you gain from stretching.
What is the best way to stretch your quads?
In the following video we teach you 2 stretches, one for the quadriceps and one for the top of the shoulders and the deltoids. The quadriceps are the main muscle group involved in running, as we've mentioned, but when you add in a top of the shoulder stretch, you complement the quadriceps. This specific upper body muscle group 'sits on top of the quads' in your body. They have a completing relationship. What this means is that the orientation that your quads have in your lower body, the deltoids have the same orientation in the upper body. The quads are the front outside of the legs and the deltoids (large intestine meridian muscle group) are the front outside of the arms. When you stretch these 2 muscle groups together, you will find that your upper and lower body work in unison better than they did before - which is very useful for running.