I never used to be a big believer in stretching. I always felt like it was a waste of time and made your xmins of exercise turn into xxxxmins of exercise and there was just no point. But then I started Marathon training and started getting all sorts of problems with my legs, back, etc. I really attribute this to trying to do too much, too soon. I should have never been doing “speed” work when training for my first marathon but all the plans I found to use included that so what was I to know? Well, now I know and I am still paying the price for that (4+ weeks later). Also, I never knew certain shoes have distance limits. Like my favorite shoes are perfectly fine shorter distance shoes but once I hit 16+ mile runs more weekends than not, I likely should have been a little more sturdily shod. Live and Learn.
A few months back I got the Run Less, Run Faster book with a gift card that was left over for Christmas. I thought this training plan might be good for me to use but I have since realized all that speed is most likely what has caused me problems for a whole training plan based on speed is not maybe the best fit for me. BUT, they had a stretch routine in the back of this book that I have been doing religiously for the past 3ish months and you know what? Stretching makes a HUGE difference! Like Huge! I still have tight muscles but I can tell I am greatly improved over what I was when I was not good about stretching every day.
It does take dedication to doing it every day for awhile though. You need to get it as part of your habit. The only real way to do this (for me anyways) is to make yourself do it for 21+ days straight and then after that just do it as often as you can. I also think the 21 days gives you enough time to see the benefits and be more inclined to keep it up. In my totally untrained opinion anyways
So since I am not sure if I can fully share the routine from the book, I will just give you a little taste of what leg muscles I make sure to stretch every day. I’ve actually added to the books plan some to include a few more trouble muscles groups for me. If you don’t know specific exercises for these muscle groups, a quick google search should give you tons of options! And really, I don’t know if it matters so much WHICH stretches you are doing but just that your ARE doing them. Every.Day!
Disclaimer: I am not a trained professional but these are just some of my favorites.
1) Quads – My favorite is the flamingo stretch but grab your left foot with your right hand and vise versa. The difference over same arm/leg is huge to me!
2) Calves (calfs??) -
3) Hip Flexors – the standard standing or kneeling one should work!
4) Hamstrings – my acupuncturist gave me one but even a downward dog would do the trick here too.
5) GLUTES – I always feel this stretch the deepest…
7) IT Band. FOAM ROLL! Nothing is quite as effective.
8) Lower back releases (so especially important for my gimp back)
10) Bird Dog exercises – This is important for me to help build core and back stretch/flexibility
11) Plank. Nothing beats a plank. Nothing. I am up to 1:30 holds! Someday I will shoot for 2:00 (that’s minutes, not hours – lol)
12) Full body release – either laying down or forward fold. (FYI I can’t stretch as far as this picture shows either so don’t feel bad )
I am obviously not a trained PT or anything like that but all of these stretches are pretty common and like I said before, finding something that works for YOU is the important part. I also tend to break all these up throughout the day… quads and hamstrings when I first get back, calf raises at work after my lunch time walk, etc., etc. It helps me actually stick with it!
So hopefully, you can find one or two new stretches to add to your routine (either here or somewhere else) for a trouble spot you have been fighting. Your muscles and running form will THANK YOU!
What’s your favorite stretch??