Silly question. We are runners. We are never bendy. We are the ones in the back in yoga, dreading the words “forward fold.” It’s comical to think we could touch our toes, and our hamstring stretch looks kind of like “sitting down” for the more flexible people of the world.
We devote hours a week to activities that tighten muscles. We are unlikely to be truly flexible, ever, no matter what we do. Which is all the more reason to stretch. When your hips hurt, or your knees hurt, or your back hurts, nine times out of ten what is really going on is tight hamstrings or a tight IT band. We know this. Why don’t we do something about it BEFORE it’s a problem!?
With the mountain lottery open and months of very hard training ahead before we get to the sheer rainbow glittery joy of running up the auto road (hah!), I’m going to challenge you –and myself– to make these 5 things a part of your training routine. Every day.
1. Make friends with your foam roller. If you don’t have one, get one. They are easy to find and they work miracles. Roll out your IT bands every single day. Don’t wait until they’ve gotten so tight that just putting weight on the roller makes you start to cry a little. (Not that I have ever struggled not to cry while rolling out my IT bands. Nope. Not me.)
2. Hamstring stretch. Really stretch your hamstrings. Not the back of your hyperextended knee. Your hammies! Since we’ve established our hamstrings really don’t move, stand up with one foot on a chair/bench/whatever. Lean over and grab your hamstring. Start to straighten. Feel that stretch in the middle of your hamstring? Yep, that’s what you want. (and don’t lock your back leg like I appear to be doing in this pic. The photobombing puppy tried to cover it up– such a good dog).
3. While we’re busy bashing up our ankles on frozen over postholes from two months ago, lets give all those little supportive muscles some TLC. Sit on the couch, and the draw the alphabet with each foot. This will do wonders for your ankles and your shins.
4. Your gluteus maximus gets all the glory, your gluteus minimus causes all the problems. Stretch that sucker out. Lay on your back, foot up flexed and knee at a right ankle, other leg crossed *below* (not on!!!) your knee, and bring it up towards your face. It feels great in an awful sort of way.
5. While you’re on the ground, give your hips some love. Lay on your back, grab one foot at a time, and bring it up at a right angle towards the floor. (half happy baby for you yoga peeps). It will work wonders on your hips and hamstrings, and your spouse and children will greatly enjoy mocking you, because you will look ridiculous. It’s a win for everyone!
And there you go…less than 10 minutes a day and you’ll prevent all kinds of injuries.