During the last 2 months, we’ve discussed general running guidelines to help you design a running program to prepare you for the local, popular runs including the Girlfriends Run for a Cure that will have thousands of runners and walkers participating from around the Northwest in the next few weeks.
Last week, we reviewed the importance of running technique and discussed how muscle tightness can affect your running mechanics. So this week and next, we will focus on various mobility and release techniques to keep you running strong and injury free. Today, I’m going to start with wall stretching which is a very relaxing way to release and since most runners are super tight to begin with, they are more likely to do it since it’s not so painful!
Complete the following stretching program after each run or workout. Hold each stretch for at least 30 seconds – ideally longer. And remember, hold each stretch to the point of tension – not pain!
Hamstring on the wall: Lie on your back with your hips close to the wall and your legs positioned straight up against the wall. To make the stretch less intense, move your hips a few inches away from the wall. To make the stretch more intense, keep your hips positioned right up against the wall and wrap a towel around your feet and lightly pull your legs a few inches away from the wall. Feel your stretch in the muscles at the back of your upper leg. Hold this stretch for as long as you feel comfortable – minimum 30 seconds each leg and ideally longer. Try to relax and breathe in to the stretch. Feel free to read a magazine or watch T.V. while holding this stretch. This is a great stretch to do after a run because it assists in the recovery process as blood is flushed from the legs back to the heart.
Groin on the wall: Lie on your back and start with both legs straight up against the wall. Now slowly separate your legs into a V-position until you feel a light stretch through your groin area.
Hips and Back on the wall: Lie on your back as if beginning the hamstring stretch starting with both legs straight against the wall. Now slowly let both legs fall to one side. Bend the bottom leg and keep the top leg straight. Turn your head in the opposite direction and reach your opposite arm away for your legs. Try to feel this stretch through your hips, lightly through your back and your chest.
Glutes on the wall – Lie on your back with your hips positioned further from the wall. Place one foot on the wall so that the knee bends to 90 degrees. Now place the other foot onto that thigh. You should feel a light stretch around the outside edge of your hip.
Inner thigh on the wall – Sit with your back straight up against the wall. Now bring the soles of your feet together and allow your legs to just drop out to the side. Feel the stretch through your groin.
Quadricep: Lay on your side with your body straight. Bend the top knee towards your buttock so that you can grab your foot or ankle. Hold the stretch while pressing your hip forward and your knee slightly back.
Hip Flexor: Position yourself in a lunge position with your front knee positioned over the front ankle and your back knee positioned comfortably on a mat or towel. Straighten your spine so your posture is fully erect. Lightly press the hip forward. Feel the stretch in the front of the thigh. To intensify the stretch, keep your body tall, while you you’re your arms to the ceiling and/or rotate your upper body in towards your front knee.
Calve stretch: Stand facing a wall. Place one leg close to the wall and the other further away. Keep the heel of the back leg positioned firmly into the floor. Be sure that both feet face forward. Feel the stretch in the back calve. Now move the back foot in a few inches. Keep the back foot firmly planted into the ground but now slightly bend the back knee and hold the stretch.
Side stretch: Stand sideways to the wall. Keep your feet 1-2 feet away from the wall. Now lean your hips into the wall. You should feel a light stretch on the outside of your leg and hip. Try this stretch with legs bent and straight.
Upper back stretch – Place 2-3 pillows on the floor. Lay on your back over the pillows so that the pillows are at about the level of your shoulder blades. Extend your arms overhead so they rest on the floor behind you. You can also do this over an exercise ball.
Low Back Stretch – Start on all fours, and then slowly sit back onto your heels into child’s pose. Reach your arms forward.
Remember to hold each stretch for at least 30 seconds and remember that light stretching is much better than deep, painful stretching! It’s also very important to note that this type of deep stretching should take place after your workouts are complete when your muscles are warm and most pliable.
One of our trainers, Derrick DeLay, one of only a handful of nationally certified American Council on Exercise Running Specialists is hosting a RunFit Running program which will teach you all these techniques. Go HERE for details.
Yours in Health & Fitness,
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