Stretch the body….and the mind.

This blog today is to highlight the importance of stretching and provide a few ones to try out. I have done yoga for years so I am aware of the inherent spiritual and physical benefits of stretching. However with so much info for/against stretching before running and workouts etc, you can end up just being confused. So I plan to just provide you with an insight in stretching, a guide to some stretches and take what you will from it. Try them out, see if they help. Maybe it will, maybe it wont, but at least if you have some factual info you can be the judge. And if you have found something else that works, either way…stick to that, perhaps, everyones body is different.

Dynamic stretching is excellent to warm up the body and “wake-up” or stimulate the nervous system before rigorous activity. Additionally, there is more and more evidence that supports the use of exercises that encourage symmetry and alignment of the entire body. I do a 3-4 min stretching warm up before I head on my long runs and afterwards once I cool down and I do not think I would be able to move if I didnt!!!!

I have fallen guilty to just running out the door sometimes without stretching especially for my 5 am runs as I got places to be and roads to run!!! But more often than not I always take time out to stretch and I continue through the day also, in the afternoon instead of grabbing that coffee do a few simple basic yoga stretches and unwind the body, you will instantly feel energised. Plus its nice to just relax and stretch the mind too, healthy mind, healthy body.

I recommend Rodney Yee’s yoga dvd its great for runners and provides shorter sport specific stretch workouts, that you can do without the video after a while and eve if you only have a few mins in the evening.

heres a link to it: http://rodneyyeeyogastore.com/120-1260.html

I guess its each individuals decision how to warm up cool down, but basically do what feels right if you find after running you need to stretch more or alot…DO IT, if before you run you naturally loosen up without stretching thats grand too. When you do stretch, stretch carefully and with caution, push a little bit out of your comfort zone but don’t be careless as a stretch and quickly turn into a strain, if used improperly!

I genuinely believe that stretching prevents injury, loosens the body, calms the mind and makes us more limber.. at any age. SO stretch on my friends….2 thumbs up!!!!

Stretch pics courtesy of http://www.coolrunning.com

1. Wall Pushup #1

Stand about three feet from a wall, feet at shoulder width and flat on the ground. Put your hands on the wall with your arms straight for support. Lean your hips forward and bend your knees slightly to stretch your calves. 

Wall Pushup2. Wall Pushup #2

From the previous position, bend forward to lower your body to waist height. Bring one foot forward with your knee slightly bent. Lift the toes of the front foot to stretch the muscle under the calf. Stretch both legs. 

Wall Pushup3. Wall Pushup #3

Put your feet together, rocking back on your heels with your hands on the wall and your arms straight to form a jackknife with your body. This stretches your hips, shoulders, and lower back. 

Back Scratch4. Back Scratch

Grab your elbow with the opposite hand and gently push the elbow up and across your body until your hand reaches down to “scratch” your back. Gently push on your elbow to guide your hand down your back as far as it will comfortably go, stretching your triceps and shoulders. Stretch both arms. 

Hamstring Stretch5. Hamstring Stretch

Lie down with one leg straight up in the air, the other bent with foot flat on the ground. Loop a towel over the arch of the lifted foot, and gently pull on the towel as you push against it with your foot. Push only to the point where your muscles contract. Stretch both legs. 

Quadriceps Stretch6. Quadriceps Stretch

Kneel on your knees (without resting back on your heels). Lean back with your body erect and your arms to the side. Hold for 15 seconds. 

Heel To Buttock7. Heel To Buttock

Stand on one foot, with one hand on a wall for balance. Hold the other foot with the opposite hand and raise the heel of the lifted foot to the buttocks (or as close as comfortably possible), stretching your quadriceps. Keep your body upright throughout. Change legs and repeat. 

Hip & Lower Back Stretch8. Hip & Lower Back Stretch

Sit on the ground with your legs crossed. Lift your right leg and cross it over the left, which should remain bent. Hug the right leg to your chest and twist the trunk of your body to look over your right shoulder. Change legs and repeat (i.e. looking over your left shoulder). 

Iliotibial Band Stretch9. Iliotibial Band Stretch

Lie on your side with both legs bent in running position. Bring the bottom leg toward your chest and then bring the top one back toward your buttocks, so that the running position of your legs is exaggerated as possible. Hold for 30 seconds then flip sides and repeat. 

Hamstring & Back Stretch10. Hamstring & Back Stretch

Lie on your back with your knees bent. Hug your shins to your chest to stretch your hamstrings and lower back. 

Bridge11. Bridge

Lie on your back and, with your feet flat on the ground, lift your hips up until your body forms a flat plane. Repeat this one ten times for 30 seconds each to stretch your quads and lower back. 

Groin Stretch12. Groin Stretch

Seated, put the soles of your feet together. With your elbows on the inside of your knees, gradually lean forward and gently press your knees toward the groin.

Happy,safe, stretchy running to everyone.

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