With my recent IT band issues, I have become even more neurotic than normal. Usually my craziness comes out in things like keeping the house clean, finding dog hair on the floor, and making sure I have snacks in my purse at all times. However, now I have become a little obsessed with making sure my muscles are nice and stretched before and after my runs. There is nothing worse than not being able to run, regardless of the time frame in which you are sidelined. With that being said, I am taking every single precaution to make sure my legs are nice and limber (weird word) while running.
I have a few favorite stretches that I do before and after runs. I have a hard time stretching out my hip flexors and my IT bands (obviously), so the stretches I do try to target those specific areas.
Pigeon Pose — by far my favorite stretch in the world. Pigeon pose is a great yoga pose that stretches just about everything out. From your hips to your quads and hamstrings, pigeon pose is a great stretch to loosen up many of your leg muscles.
Butterfly Stretch — For some reason this stretch always reminds me of elementary school gym class. Regardless, it is a great stretch for your hip flexors and groin area.
Hamstring Stretch — I have found in my years of running that my hamstrings get tight very quickly, but I don’t necessarily know it until I am midway through my run and the back of my legs feel too tight to move even one more step. To stretch out your hamstring, you can use either your arms to grip your calf (or wherever is comfortable on your leg) or you could put your raised leg against a wall instead.
Low Lunge — Another great yoga pose I do regularly when stretching before and after runs. This stretch also helps with your hips as well as your quads and hamstrings. For a variation, you can lift your knee off the ground for a high lunge as well.
One thing to remember is that stretching should never be painful or hurt in any way. If you are experiencing any kind of pain while stretching, you might want to look at your technique or how deep your stretch is.
In the past, I have definitely slacked off in the stretching department, so I am hoping with consistent stretching, I can continue to improve on my flexibility and lower my changes of injury!
Question: What is your favorite stretch?