We’re continuing our series on recovery this week and often recovery can be one of the hardest parts of our training. It’s a vital part to the process, however – without adequate recovery our body will not reap the benefits from our workouts and we put ourselves at higher risk for injury.
Last month we focused on foam rolling. Foam rolling is great for loosening up tight muscles and improving mobility, and if you have to choose between foam rolling and stretching in a time crunch, I always advise my runners to foam roll. If you’re able to do both after running, though, that’s ideal. But sometimes you don’t have a foam roller handy, or you’re out and about and not about to plop down on the ground with your foam roller. This is where stretching comes in handy.
Static stretching (holding a stretch) is best done after running or a workout. The benefits of stretching include increased flexibility (range of motion around a joint) and reduced muscle soreness the day after, as well as cooling down your body and mind after a hard workout. Each stretch should be held for at least 30-40 seconds for best results.
Below are some pictures to help you get started.
Glutes/IT Band – Figure 4
Push your toes toward your knee for a deeper stretch. This one can also be done lying on your back.
Quads – Standing
Knee should be directly under the hip.
Hamstrings – Standing
In the first picture, the calf is being stretched on the side with the foot up on the wall. In the second picture, the back calf is being stretched – bending the knee slightly will get deeper into the soleus (one of the two muscles that make up the calf). Because the calf is a muscle that is tight for many runners, I recommend doing all three.
One additional “stretch” that can help with recovery is legs up the wall. I recommend doing it after longer runs to refresh the blood in your legs, as well as stretch out the backs of your legs a bit. Simply find a wall and put your legs straight up it, with your glutes as close to the wall as possible.
Just like with foam rolling, it’s important to stretch all parts of the leg equally. Incorporating stretching into your daily routine will eventually lead to greater flexibility, which can help lead to less injuries. Happy stretching!
Tammy Whyte is the owner and head coach at TW Training and Wellness and is both a certified personal trainer (NASM) and certified running coach (RRCA). Summer Marathon and Half Marathon Training Programs are open for registration, and they include monthly workshops on topics such as recovery and injury prevention. Programs are open to all levels of runners and start in June. Check out more information and her training programs at www.twtrainingwellness.com. Feel free to reach out with questions at [email protected]