They were having a lot of fun stretching together and sharing tips, tricks and exercises. Mum was super impressed that these handlers were starting off their agility careers and their runs on the right foot, so to speak. She just hopes that they warmed up with a little cardio before stretching. Why? Because the latest research says that stretching should be done on warm muscles not cold to prevent injury, and not decrease performance. And we've been reading the same lately for dogs. The most important time to stretch is after a good cardio workout and not before.
Of course I'm not an expert, but I read a lot. So I'm gonna share with you what we've learned and what we do before and after an agility run.
It's so important for both agility handlers and us dogs to get in some cardio, and a little bit of stretching and warm up before each of our runs. This has been our little pre-agility routine, for trailing and training, ever since my iliopsoas pull. After that happened we did a lot of research on stretching, warming up, cooling down, etc.
So before a run, Mum takes me out of my crate and lets me naturally stretch, since I do that every time I come out of my crate, anyway (well most of the time). Then we walk around a little, speed it up some into a little jog, and do that for about 5 minutes or so. When it's closer to the time to run, Mum gives me some treats up near her waist so that I have to stretch out my entire body fully and naturally. She does a couple of quick begs with me, a cookie side stretch on each side, one or two more full body stretches with treats from her waist, one or two quick turns (spins, left and right), and that's it. All of this really revs me up too, gets my blood flowing and all my muscle groups ready for a strenuous run. We do this all about 5 minutes before our run.
While she's doing these things with me, she's also jogging some, taking large steps to stretch out her legs, bending over to help me do my cookie stretches, etc. So while she's warming me up, she's also warming up herself.
Then after a run, we go through an entire body stretch and cool down process. We take a nice little jog to a walk for about 5-10 minutes, then back at the crate Mum has me do the cookie stretches, waist stretches, begs, and a few more exercises. I get a nice drink of water.
Then we walk around slowly for a few more minutes, while I continue to cool down. Then she rubs me down with a nice quick massage in all the major muscle areas, checking for any tightness. And we make sure that I do that every run before I get back in my crate to await my next run.
After that, Mum starts doing some of her stretches, mostly yoga based, since she loves yoga.
As a side note much of the suggested routine for me we garnered through Chris Zink's, The Agility Advantage - a great book that you can read more about on our Canine Athletes lens.
So back to the stretching agility handlers - last year we put together this Squidoo lens resource for Canine Athletes - keeping them healthy, happy and running good. Over the months, Mum's been adding in some additional resources for the agility handlers on our lens, and went searching on YouTube, of course. Here is a nice vid of stretching, great stuff for after some cardio, or after a run, for the humans to increase flexibility and keep those muscles in top shape.