February sees the start of a new series of stretches from the Club Head coach Kieran.
There is a wide variation in stretches available for post run/training. The following eight-stretch routine is simple to follow and will keep you flexible in all your main running muscles. Follow it after every run or exercise/workout.
· Don’t stretch cold muscles. It’s far better to stretch after a run than before.
· Do stretch lightly before speed work, after a 10-minute warm-up jog.
· Ease into each stretch: don’t bounce or force it.
· After a run, hold each stretch for 30 seconds; repeat once or twice on each leg.
1. Lying hamstring stretch
Keep your upper body relaxed and both legs straight as you pull one leg towards you (illustrated using a band but you can do this stretch by holding behind the knee or calf of your raised leg).
2. Lying gluteal stretch against wall
Keep the ankle of your front leg just below your knee and ensure that you’re close enough to the wall for your lower back to be off the floor. As gravity gently brings your lower back towards the floor, you’ll feel a stretch in the muscles around the side of your buttocks. Adjust the angle of your hips and front knee to intensify the stretch. If you haven’t got a wall to press against then using the arm on the opposite side of the leg bent at right angles, reach through the gap and holding the leg bent at right angles pull that in towards your chest until you feel a stretch in the side of your buttocks.
3. Groin stretch
Hold your feet and gently use your leg muscles to move your knees towards the ground. Keeping a straight back and bringing your feet closer to your body intensifies the stretch.
4. Gastrocnemius (upper calf) stretch
Keep the back leg straight and push the back heel into the ground. Keeping a straight upper body and gently lifting up your hips helps. There shouldn’t be much pressure on the front foot. If there is not a wall available then push against an imaginary wall or do the stretch with a partner, face on, pushing against each others shoulders.
5. Soleus (lower calf) stretch
Stand closer to the wall and bend one leg, keeping the foot flat on the floor. You should feel a stretch in your lower calf. Leaning towards the wall intensifies the stretch; there should be little pressure on the other foot. Again, if there is not a wall available then push against an imaginary wall once you have bent into the stretch or do the stretch with a partner, face on, pushing against each others shoulders once you have each bent into the stretch.
6. Iliotibial band stretch
Place one foot around the other, with both feet flat on the ground. Keeping both legs straight, lean your hips towards the side of your rearmost foot (so, if your right foot is rearmost, lean your hips to the right). You should feel the stretch down the outside of your leg and around your hip — if you are very stiff, it may take a few times before you feel anything. If a wall is not available then practice doing this stretch with a partner.
7. Hip flexor stretch
Keep your hips squared forwards and your upper body vertical; slumping forwards reduces the stretch.
8. Standing quadriceps stretch
Flex your foot and keep your body straight to maximise the stretch through the front of your leg. You can put one hand on a wall if you need balance.