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On the Run Blog: The home stretch

Wednesday - 10/10/2012, 6:36am  ET

Stretch_PW.JPG
WTOP's Paula Wolfson and fitness expert Craig Ramsay practice the sumo squat, the base for a lot of hip and back stretches, at Epic Yoga in Dupont Circle. (Courtesy of Troy Petenbrink)
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Editor's Note: To mark a milestone birthday, WTOP's Paula Wolfson has signed up to run the Marine Corps Marathon. She will be sharing her journey along the way in a series of blog posts.

Paula Wolfson, wtop.com

WASHINGTON - One of the benefits of being a health reporter on the run - literally - is you can seek out expert advice.

And that is why I ended up sitting on the floor at Epic Yoga in D.C. with my new stretching guru Craig Ramsay.

Now, Ramsay is more than your average fitness guy. He is also a trained contortionist and a former Broadway dancer (think "Lion King"), and he is on a mission to get everyone to stretch more - and to do it right.

Stretching got kind of a bad rap in recent years, and that is because a lot of us were doing it wrong.

Think about it: How many times have you seen someone stretching at the start of a workout or before going for a long walk or run?

"You don't want to do it on a cold muscle," Ramsay says. "You want to be smart about your stretching."

That means stretching is best done AFTER you workout, or at the very least, after your warm-up.

"Let's warm up the body before we stretch, let's get the heart rate going ... let's elevate the body temperature," Ramsay stresses.

And oh, it can feel so good - especially after a long run (my preference) or weight session at the gym. No equipment involved - just your own body.

And there are pointers available everywhere. Ramsay has a book called "Anatomy of Stretching," but there also are videos and websites (including craigramsayfitness.com) with free advice.

Of course, if you can manage to get a one-on-one with the man himself, so much the better. And what I found is proper stretching can help with flexibility and recovery - cutting the soreness after a tough bout of exercise. It can also, if you are a 5-foot-2 runner, lengthen your stride. And that is a very big deal indeed!

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)