You’re a badass. Running is a physically demanding sport. If you don’t treat your body right, it could take a take a serious pounding while you’re pounding the pavement. When you’re training, you’re using almost all your muscles to propel you forward. That’s a lot of work; if your muscles are tight, you’re far more likely to be injured and that’s not so great for your badass status.
Even in the colder months, when you’ve moved your training indoors (check out our Indoor Exercises for Outdoor Trainers here) you still need to properly stretch those muscles and get them ready to work as a vital step in your routine.
When you run, be it on the road or treadmill, each stride causes the muscles in your leg to constrict and push together. According to fitday.com, this is like a rubber band being wound over and over, if not properly stretched, the muscles could become “wound” too tight and snap. With colder weather, the likelihood increases so it’s even more important to keep you body supple.
Before you run…
Perfect for the mat before a good session on the treadmill, active.com suggests these stretches for runners to loosen up and trigger all your leg muscles through full range of motion.
The Dynamic Walking Lunge:
Standing upright, with your legs together, take one large step forward with your right leg, and bend the knee until your thigh is parallel to the floor. Check to make sure your knee is directly above your ankle (and that your butt looks great, cos baby got back!). Once you’re steady, push back up, and bring your left foot forward to meet your right foot. Repeat twenty times, alternating each time between your left and right.
The Legging Swingers:
Hold onto a sturdy object like a table, door frame or your unwavering belief that you could still be Mrs Ryan Reynolds or Mr Kate Upton. Now, standing on one leg, swing your other leg back and forth, repeating the motion twenty times per leg. Using the same starting position, swing your free leg, from left to right, repeating the motion twenty times per leg. Try to build the swing gradually until your leg is close to its full range of motion.
After you run…
While you’re still on that workout high, try these stretches to maintain healthy flexibility and range of motion. Try to hold them all for about for 30 seconds to two minutes and also close to your heart, cos stretches need love too.
Kneeling hip flexor and hamstring:
Or as we like to call it, the old-lady-trying-stand-up-in-church. Starting with a standard kneeling position, place your right foot in front of you, with your knee bent at 90 degrees. Make sure your knee is directly above your ankle and your back is straight. Keeping your left knee on the ground, push your right hip forward while stretching your left hip and right hamstring. To maximise the stretch to the left hip flexors, squeeze glute muscles of your left hip.
The Flamingo or Standing quad:
Stand with legs together. Put your left leg in, take your left leg out, put your left leg in and shake it all about. Congratulations, you have successfully done the hokey-pokey! Now back to the standing quad. Starting with your legs together, bend your left knee, bringing your heel up to meet your left buttock (haha, buttock.) Now reach back and hold your foot with your left hand. Make sure that you are not pulling up with your hand, but stretching back with your leg.
Stand facing a wall with your hands on the wall at about chest level. Now gently whisper the chorus to Michael Bolton’s timeless classic, “I Said I Loved You, But I Lied”. Felt good right? Now with your heel still touching the floor, place your the ball of your right foot up against the wall and gently lean into the wall until you feel a stretch in your calf while keeping your leg straight. Repeat on the left and alternate as required.
The Hateful Eight
1. Hamstring Stretch with Cord
Lying down, keep your upper body relaxed and both legs straight as you pull one leg towards you.
2. Lying Glute Stretch
Lying on your back with your legs against a wall, lift your bum and adjust the angle of your hips to intensify the stretch.
3. Groin Stretch
Sitting on the ground with the soles of your feet touching. hold your feet and gently use your leg muscles to move your knees towards the ground.
4. Upper Calf Stretch
Standing with your palms against a wall, keep your left leg straight and push the heel of your right leg back, into the ground.
5. Lower Calf Stretch
Standing with your palms against a wall, bend that leg, keeping the foot flat on the floor. Leaning towards the wall intensifies the stretch.
6. Iliotibial Band Stretch
Steadied with a hand against a wall. Cross your legs, with both feet flat on the ground. Keeping both legs straight, lean your hips towards the side of your rearmost foot. You should feel the stretch down the outside of your leg.
7. Hip Flexor Stretch
Do a traditional lunge, but keep your hips squared forwards and your upper body completely vertical; tilting forwards diminishes the stretch.
8. Standing Quadriceps Stretch
Standing on one leg, grab your foot and keep your body straight to maximise the stretch through the front of your leg. Hold onto a wall for balance.
Feeling inspired or need a bit more help getting into peak pretzel form? At Viva we have a host of classes specifically geared at improving flexibility. Check out our Stretch, Yoga, Pilates and Yoga-Lates classes now!
For even more stretches, watch this step-by-step guide: