When I first started working out, I took a bunch of fitness classes. I would get through the class and then dart out once it was over, skipping the cool-down and stretch session. I have been a cheerleader all my life and I was always taught that we needed to stretch. It was more of habit (and our coaches making us do so) that I never really focused on how crucial it was. Now that I have researched continuously about fitness and gained more knowledge about it, I now know how important stretching is.
Fact: I love reading about running. It may sound weird but I love going to the library or bookstore and find new books related to fitness and running.
A couple weeks ago I came across this book called Running for Peak Performance by Frank Shorter’s. Now, this book is more for beginners but it honestly has really good tips that even intermediate or advanced runners may overlook!
My favorite part of the book was the part all about stretching. It also included the importance of warm-ups and cool-downs.
Basically, stretching will help you:
- Become more flexible
- Avoid injuries
- Prevent strains
- Loosen muscles
- Recover quicker
- Run better
Honestly these stretches are VERY BASIC. They’re super easy that a 3 year old could do them and they are also very important! I think everyone should perform these stretches or something similar, even if you are not a runner. So give it a try!
1. Hamstring and Calf Stretch
Sit on floor. Relax arms and press knees to mat.
Keep back straight, bend upper body forward, feeling stretch in hamstring and back of thighs. Reach arms and hold balls of feet.
2. Hip, Back, and Side Stretch
Sit and slowly bend right leg in toward body, keeping left leg extended straight out to side.
Twist body to left toward your extended leg, placing both hands as far down your calf as you can. Bring chest and torso as close to your extended leg as possible, feeling the stretch along the right side of your hip, back, torso, and left inner thigh. Switch legs.
3. Hip Stretch I
Sit upright with legs straight out in front of you. Bend right leg, bringing it across your left thigh as you sit up straight. Hold right leg in position at the knee.
Hold lower body static as you twist your upper body to the right. Press left elbow against knee for a deeper stretch.
(I love this one it always cracks my lower back)
4. Hip Stretch II
Runners overlook stretching their hips properly. The muscle can get tight without showing early signs.
Lie flat with knees bent. Bend right leg to the side, placing outside of your ankle above your left knee.
Place both hands behind your left thigh and pull your leg up toward your torso.
5. Lying Quad Stretch
Lie on left side with one leg on top of the other.
Bring your right leg up behind you and hold the front of your foot with your right hand. Pull foot close to your body, holding your calf against your hamstring, pushing your right hip forward slightly. Switch sides.
6. Standing Calf Stretch
This stretches the Achilles tendon and the calf muscle.
Stand upright against wall placing the ball of your foot against the wall.
Lean your upper body in toward the wall, placing the pressure of your weight on the ball of your right foot. Push weight toward the wall, using your back foot to increase the stretch. Do not bounce. Switch sides.
7. Back Stretch
Loosens erector spinae, and relax the lower back which gets pressure put on it from running.
Lie on back with knees bent up toward your chest forming a 90 degree angle. Rest arms by your side pressing lower back into mat.
Place hands behind your knees and pull the backs of your thighs into your chest.
8. Triceps Stretch
Many runners store tensions in the upper body without realizing it, so don’t overlook stretching the upper body! Especially if you strength train as well.
I hope these stretches were helpful!
Do you skip stretching?
What is your favorite stretch to do?