YES, mandatory! These are not optional…
For some horrible reason, most people dread stretching. It’s so strange because after you stretch, you are usually so happy that you did it! If we could just remember that feeling 🙂
If you do NOTHING else, please take my advice and complete at least these 4 important stretches FOLLOWING EVERY SINGLE RUN. If you neglect this important part of training, you are at risk of injury, or chronic soreness which will most definitely interrupt your training plans and lifestyle.
Hamstrings can become tight after runs if not stretched properly which can affect your stride. It is important to treat your hamstrings with care when stretching because they are commonly pulled which can cause many problems for you. Wait until your muscles are nice and warm before giving them a deep stretch.
Lie on your back. Plant one foot flat on the ground, and raise the other leg with your foot flat to the ceiling. Loop a towel or band around your arch and gently place pressure against it with your foot. Hold for 10-15 seconds.
Being opposite of your hamstrings, while stretching your quads you are naturally flexing your hamstrings makes them stronger! Your quads are responsible for lifting your knees in order to move your body. It is important to keep them strong and flexible for speed!
Standing tall with legs hip width apart. Use something stable to balance if needed. Bend one leg and knee and grab foot behind body. Do lock your standing knee.
Hold 10-15 Seconds.
If you have never heard this one before, get to know it now because it is common to feel twinges here as a runner! Your piriformis rotates your hips, helping them change direction. Your piriformis will become very tight if not stretched properly, which in turn can cause pain and lower body spasms. You can even irritate your sciatic nerve which can be really uncomfortable! Give it the attention it deserves and you won’t be sorry!
Lie on your back with your body in a straight line. Bring your right knee in and rotate it in mini circles. Slowly extend your right leg across your body to the left side, using your left arm to support it. Hold 10 seconds. Raise your leg up and over to the right side of your body, opening up your hip. Use your right hand to support your leg off the ground. Hold 10 sec. Hug your knee back into body. Slowly release. repeat other side.
I bet everyone is aware that your calves can become uncomfortably tight! Even after a long night in heels, they may require some stretching. Stretching your calves after, and sometimes even during, a run is a must. It’s important to keep your calves flexible and loose to perfect the spring in your step!
Find a wall that you can place your toes onto OR push and lean into it for a good calf stretch. Take it slow, and repeat one leg at a time.
As I said, do these moves at the very least after each run. You should, however, be performing a more in depth stretching session at least once every few runs (if not every time).