Stretching

Stretching

It may be tempting to think of the actual walking or running as the event of the day so when you are finished you are done.  Not so.  The ease and lack of injury on your next workout attempt is dependent upon how well you stretch when you finish the present workout.  If you allow the muscles to remain in a tightened state, you are more likely to feel labored or sustain injury the next time out.

Take a few minutes to reward yourself for the effort you just put into a long run/walk.

A massage therapist and a sports trainer both said the same thing: “people need to stretch right” and “the lack of stretching is the root of most injuries” so… the “right” way to stretch is to take a warm muscle to the point where you start to feel the stretch and then BACK OFF just a hair.  Hold the position until you feel the muscle relax.  Breathing while you hold this position brings oxygen to the muscles.  Once you feel them relax then you can stretch further, to the point you feel it and back off a hair and hold.  You will probably be able to do this several times before you get a nice good stretch in any given muscle.  This takes time and can not be rushed.  Think of it as an investment in your longevity of comfort.

The basics:

Calves

Find something to prop your toes up on and lean into the stretch, with toes up and heel down.Hamstrings- bend over toward to the toes- not necessary to touch your toes- and just let your upper body hang.  This should be sufficient to feel a stretch in the back of your legs.

Quads

This one requires some individual preference.  The typical way to stretch the quads is to lift the foot back, hold it with the opposing hand and slightly push your pelvis forward.  A few words of caution:  if done improperly you can tweak the knee.  Make sure the alignment of your hip, knee, and foot is straight.  No twisting of the knees.  It doesn’t take much movement of the pelvis to feel the stretch.  Another form of this stretch is to get down on all fours (on your back) and push your stomach up to form a table type position.

Hip flexors

There are two stretches:

  1. Sitting on the ground place one leg out in front of you with the other folded over it, so your knee is up near your face and the foot is on the outside of the straight leg.  If the right knee is up, take you left arm and place it over the knee and twist toward the right knee.  Do this on both legs.
  2. In addition to, not in place of the first stretch, find something to lean against (not a person). Step several feet away from the object depending on how tall you are and stand sideways.  With the leg closest to the object, cross the other leg over in front to support yourself and lean into the object.  It should give you a nice long stretch from the knee through the hip; you may or may not feel it but it works.  It hits the IT band and helps avoid knee pain.

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