Stretching is often an overlooked but extremely important aspect of an exercise routine. After a workout, all you need is another few minutes to get in some basic stretching that I feel will help prevent injures, speed recovery, improve performance, and provide a nice signal to the mind/body that it can begin the healing and rebuilding process.
Below are five basic exercises that I do after running or cycling. I will hold each stretch for 20 seconds.
Place right leg across your body, past your left foot. The slowly bend from the waist to your right. You will typically feel the stretch along your left hip/upper IT band. Repeat for other hip/IT.
Hold on to some kind of immovable object and act as though you are sitting with one ankle over the other leg’s knee. You will feel a nice stretch along the outer “bumper” muscle. This area can get tight after a run or bike ride. Repeat with other leg.
Note: Do not extend your support knee if front of your support ankle to reduce knee stress.
Place one leg about one step behind your body and include a fair amount of body weight on it. Then lean forward with your arms against a wall to provide support. You will feel the stretch in your back leg’s calf muscle. Repeat with other leg.
Place one leg a step or so in front of your body. Slowly bend from the waist over the forward leg and feel the nice stretch in your hamstring. Repeat with other leg.
Find a wall or object to keep you from falling on your face (unless you have great balancing skills). Then raise your ankle behind you body towards your hand and relax the leg after you have grabbed onto the ankle. Slowly pull your ankle towards your “bumper” and the feel the quad muscle stretch. Repeat with other leg.
So let’s do a little math. (20 seconds per stretch) x (5 stretches x 2 legs) = 200 seconds = 3 minutes 20 seconds of stretching! That is a fairly short amount of time considering you are stretching every major muscle group in your lower body.
After your next run or ride, give these stretches a try and let me know what you think of them!
Of course, if you feel any major discomfort when performing any stretch, it probably is a good idea to stop.
What other stretches do you like to do after a run or ride?
Feel the BuzZ!