Ready to run? Make sure you stretch

El Paso Marathon is Feb. 17

Ready to run? Make sure you stretch

EL PASO, Texas - In exactly one month, runners of all ages will take to the streets of El Paso for the annual Michelob Ultra Marathon, Half Marathon and 5K.

Running can put immense strain on the body. How runners relieve that stress during training is just as important, according to some fitness experts.

Lisa Walsh, a former Cross Fit competitor, believes in the power of the stretch.

"I never believed that stretching was important," Walsh said. "I'd go to the gym and warm up for like two minutes and there I was, cranking weights like crazy. I just feel that it was a lot of a lack of knowledge. It was lack of slowing down and just realizing that your body does need it."

Walsh is now the general manager of Stretch Zone. She explained the mission of the company to ABC-7.

"We work with the body's natural stretch reflex, which helps the body reach the optimal range of motion every time," she said.

The Mayo Clinic reports that stretching can help improve flexibility and range of motion, which can boost physical performance and decrease risk of injury.

Walsh said when stretching runners, her experts focus on two of the most important muscles the side of the upper leg, known as the IT band, and the hips.

"It helps with speed -- it even helps open up that stride that runners long for," Walsh said. "It helps prevent injuries: people get shin splints and people get tight hips, sciatica and tight IT bands."

But Walsh said it's not a "stretch" to say stretching is good for everyone -- athletic or not.

"It helps them with better flexibility, better mobility -- just helps them to move better throughout their day," she added.

Walsh pointed out that she has even stretched 90-year-olds who are dealing with chronic illness as a reminder that increasing blood flow to your muscles is beneficial at any age or activity level.

Sign up for the marathon here or enter for an opportunity to win free registration here.

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