Running has always been been a challenge for me. Yes, I realize I’ve completed 7 half marathons, a full marathon and now I’m training for my 8th half marathon (with a focus on speed work to boot!), but running isn’t something that comes naturally to me. I really have to work at it.
I know this about my body because of the way it reacts to training and running the copious amount associated with training for these races. When I run several days in a row, my knees ache, my legs feel like lead, and my hips tighten up. Being a personal trainer and group fitness instructor gives me the knowledge to know that mobility, stretching and strength training are KEY for being a healthy runner (and dare I say increase your pace?) and avoiding all of those aches and pains, but I’m also human.
If you’re like me, you’re often rushed through the workout and 5 minutes before the workout is over, your brain is already onto the next task causing you to give the stretches less than a full effort or skip them all together. Any out there with me?
Because I am focusing on gaining speed during my upcoming October half marathon and I’m running WAY more than I ever have consistently, I have found a few stretches from Youtube yoga videos, online research, and my knowledge base that really feel good that I commit to doing almost every day and especially right after a good run. They have also helped me avoid any of those aches and pains I mentioned above 😉
Got pain? These 4 IT Band Stretches may be just what you need to relieve some of those tight muscles! Click To Tweet
When completing these stretches hold for about 12 breaths or 30 seconds. You should never feel pain during a stretch, so move into a position that is at your personal edge. I’m not very flexible at all, so the photos below do not display a very deep stretch. If you are more flexible, feel free to stretch deeper!
*If you are feeling serious pain during or after any workouts, please seek medical or professional care. These stretches are meant to relieve the stress of typical workouts and are not meant to treat or aid in the treatment of any potential injury or condition.
Foam Roll: Start with foam rolling to help your body get deeper into the static stretches that follow. Using your body weight, position yourself on almost any area of the leg (you can even do your back!). Make sure to apply pressure as you target specific tender areas. Slowly roll back and forth on these areas for at least 30 seconds before moving on to the spot. Make sure to do both legs (my favorite spots are the sides of my thigh like in the picture, my glutes, my hamstrings/the back of my thighs, and my calves)
Seated Forward Fold with Crossed Legs: Sit with your legs straight in front of you and your right leg on top of your left. Point your feet away from each other (toes facing out rather than in). Exhale as you lower your upper body towards your lower body stopping where you feel the stretch occur. You will feel this stretch along the outer thigh of the bottom leg. Hold for about 12 breaths or 30 seconds and switch the leg on top. Repeat on the other side.
Reclined Cow Face Pose: Lie on your back and cross one leg over the other bringing your knees in close to your chest. You can hold on to your ankles, shins, or just below the knee. You will feel this open up your hips. Hold for about 12 breaths or 30 seconds and switch sides. Repeat on the other side.
Reclined IT Band Stretch with Strap: Lie flat on your back with your legs out long in front of you and a yoga strap or towel in one hand. Keeping your left leg long, extend the right leg up toward the ceiling and loop the strap or towel around the foot. Gently bring the right leg across your body, keeping your shoulders flat on the ground. Stop when you notice your shoulders lifting or you feel the stretch. Hold for 12 breaths or 30 seconds, return to starting position and repeat on the other side.