Saturday, March 21, 2009

Gettin' ready to run!

Mum was getting ready to run Gracie at a trial end of last year. And when she arrived at the starters ring she saw a group of about six handlers all together in a circle doing their stretching routines.

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.


  1. All good information! Thanks for reminding us about the importance of stretching!

  2. Awesome info! I usually warm-up Abby at the warm-up jump and have her do serpentines and down-stay-overs. Not only does it get her warmed up, but it also get her focus on me and she always knows we have a run coming up afterwards. I'll walk her around the beginning too, to make sure she goes the bathroom. After runs however, I usually run her to the crate/car to get treats for her that okay? Or should I be giving her a longer cool down at the site?
    Thanks! ~Kim

  3. Thanks Ricky!

    Hi Kim - the only things I would do if I were you from what you've described, is do a little jogging with Abby before taking some jumps, just a few minutes would do. (At least that's the advice I've been getting from vets, and Chris Zink's book). You may even want to add in a cookie stretch or two before the run just to get the spine limbered up.

    Running to her crate for treats is awesome! We do that a lot too, but I would recommend some more cool down time, walking around, doing some of those cookie stretches, a little massage before going back in her crate. IMHO You can never be too careful to keep your athlete fit!

  4. Very informative post Johann!

    The email from Coryelle asked mum to leave a comment about it. We thought it was very good, she reassured us in her answer. She also said that I said I'm not fond of planes. I've never been near a plane but when we first moved mum was going to go live with her poorly Nan to look after her but decided not to for the time being. Her Nan lives right under the flight path of a major airport. Don't know if we're leaping there, but it is interesting. :)

  5. Nice post! Thanks for the reminder about the post-run stretching -- I've never thought to do that.


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