Get stretchy.

Just as I’ve never been huge into warming up, I’ve also never been crazy about stretching after workouts.  I know it is important but I’m sort of a “go-go-go” type of gal (Yoga has really stretched me in this area–no pun intended) and slowing down to stretch has not always been on my priority list. Also, I’m often really hungry when I finish a run and my recovery smoothie typically wins out over my tight muscles.

Since leaving my full time job, I no longer have an “excuse” for not giving my muscles a little TLC after a workout.  Instead of feeling like I have to choose one or the other–food or stretching–I now see eating and stretching as two parts of the same whole–recovery.  Recovery is just as important, if not more so, than the actual workout.  This is when your muscles begin to repair themselves so you can go at it again the next day.  So, if I’m feeling overtaken by hunger when I get in the door, I make a smoothie and begin stretching as I drink it.

Here are a few stretches I try to do most days.  They are particularly useful if you have tight hips (runners and hikers, you know what I’m talking about).  It is best to do them while your muscles are still warm.  Breathe into the stretches, relax, and find ease within your effort.

Cross Over Side Stretch: stretches hips, ITBs, obliques

  • stand straight with your feet facing forward
  • cross your right foot over your left so that the pinkie sides of both your feet are touching
  • press strongly and evenly through both feet
  • stretch your arms above your head and clasp your hands
  • extend as long as your can and slowly arch to the left
  • hold for 5-10 breathes
  • Repeat on opposite side

Please excuse the ugly wall. We're getting ready to move and our studio apartment doesn't have much open space in it these days.

Cross Legged Standing Forward Bend: stretches ITB’s, glues, hamstrings, upper back, and lower back
  • stand straight with your feet facing forward
  • cross your right foot over your left so that the pinkie sides of both your feet are touching
  • press strongly and evenly through both feet
  • put your hands on your hips and slowly hinge forward
  • place your hands on the floor or your shin
  • relax your head and neck
  • hold for 5-10 breathes
  • repeat on opposite side
Extension:  
  • stay in the same position, inhale and  lift your head and chest and flatten your back
  • extend your chest forward
  • exhale and hold back towards your legs
Standing Forward Fold: stretches glutes, hamstrings, upper back, and lower back
  • stand straight with your feet touching or slightly apart
  • inhale and stretch your arms up
  • exhale and hinge at the hips, bringing your hands to the floor, your shins, or grab your elbows and hang
  • hold for for 5-10 breathes
Extension:
  • Place both hands on the floor or your shins
  • inhale and lift your head and chest, extending your chest forward
  • exhale and fold back towards your legs
Monkey Pose
Lunges: Stretches hip flexors and quads
1) Kneeling lunge:
  • start on all fours
  • place one foot forward between your hands, stacking your knee over your ankle
  • square your hips
  • Stay here if this is enough OR
  • grab your back foot with the same side arm
  • pull your knee towards your hip
  • hold for 5-10 breathes
  • repeat on opposite side

If you find it difficult to balance, place your hand(s) on your knee. Hug your legs together isometrically.

This will give you an even deeper hip and quad stretch. Try to square your hips.

2. Crescent Lunge
  • lift your back knee off the floor and straighten your back leg as much as possible.  Engage your quad.
  • Press your back heal towards the wall behind you
  • hug your legs together isometrically for balance.
Back to the Park!
Downward Facing Dog: Stretches glutes, hamstrings, shoulders, calves
  • begin on all fours with your toes curled under, fingers spread wide
  • lift your knees off the floor and press your sit-bone towards the ceiling
  • Straighten your arms and let your chest sink towards thighs on a big exhale
  • if your hamstrings and calves are tight, pedal through your feet slowly
  • hold for 5-10 breathes

get down with your bad dog.

Half Rock Star: Stretches glutes, hamstrings, shoulders, calves, and hip flexors
  • start in downward facing dog
  • lift your right leg and stack your hips on top of each other
  • bend your right knee and look under your left armpit at your foot
  • press evenly into both hands and press your left heal towards the floor
  • hold for 5-10 breathes
  • repeat second side

Maybe I'll teach you full rock star when you're older. wink.

Pigeon: stretches hip abductors, hip flexors
  • begin on all fours
  • slide your right knee towards your right wrist and your right ankle towards you left wrist
  • you want you shin to work towards parallel with the front of your mat–if this isn’t happening for you (me, me, me), turn your back toes under and walk them backwards. This will help deepen the stretch
  • level your hips as much as possible
  • open your chest, look up at the sky if you can
  • exhale and hinge at the hips–walking your hands forward  and resting on your hands, your elbows, or your chest

If your hips are way off the ground, slide a block/pillow/blanket under for support

Feels so good–this not only stretches you out, it will also calm your nervous system. Don’t forget to breathe!
Happy Recovery!
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2 thoughts on “Get stretchy.

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