gagner en souplesse pour mieux courir

Become more supple to run better

Stiff as a board! This is how runners often describe themselves. Anyone would think the thought of touching the ground with your fingers – while keeping your legs straight – was an impossible challenge. But becoming more supple should be an absolute requirement…


The advantages of a supple body…

Simply carefully analyse the training programmes followed by runners of all levels to realize that they almost never include stretching sessions. Anyone would think running and suppleness are only remotely related. Yet everything leads us to believe – even though scientific studies sometimes give conflicting results – that regular stretching exercises alongside exertion while running are extremely beneficial.

The benefits of a supple (or more supple) body :

- It is less likely to sustain injury. Exertion aims to stretch muscles to provide good overall posture and good oxygenation.

- It tolerates the demands of running sessions more easily and usually recovers faster.

- It performs better. Frequency and length of stride: these two parameters have a direct impact on your effectiveness during training or competitions.


For exercises aiming to improve overall suppleness, it is important – as with mileage – to build up gradually. Be careful not to 'overdo' the difficulty of positions and/or exercises, or the amount of time you devote to stretching. Taking advice from a physiotherapist or sports doctor is a useful preliminary in order to identify areas that you particularly need to stretch and make more supple. As always, it is essential to listen to your body.


Distrust static stretching before exertion

Should you stretch before exerting yourself ?

KinéSport, a sports and healthcare physiotherapy training organisation, has given a clear answer to this question asked by runners: "Passive stretching during warm-ups is not recommended, especially for exercise involving plyometric speed-relaxation exertion. Active dynamic or ballistic stretching is recommended. "

Badr El Hariri, a physiotherapist in Paris, adds: "The value of warm-ups is to raise muscle temperature in preparation for exercise. But passive stretching lowers this temperature and cancels the beneficial effects of a prior warm-up. "Other drawbacks of passive stretching before exertion include: raising the pain threshold of muscle fibres and hiding tissue lesions during physical exercise.

Nevertheless, stretching sessions can be given preference when exertion by running is a long way off. They are especially recommended on 'break' and/or cross-training days (body building, core muscle building, cycling and swimming).


Explore the avenue of yoga

By making you more supple and teaching you another way to breathe deeply, yoga creates a different relationship with your body. Many runners now practise yoga during training breaks or convalescence. It is especially recommended over the age of 40.

Ashtanga yoga, which consists of a series of dynamic postures, is to be preferred. Lessons last 90 minutes and enable you to burn up calories while working on your balance, breathing and suppleness in particular. The pelvic region, which is given a rough time by running, is used heavily. According to yoga followers, the body's centre of energy is located in the triangle formed by the hips and perineum.



You can strive to improve your natural suppleness at any age! Frequent stretching exercises are especially worthwhile for runners aged over 40 – due to their natural loss of muscle mass.