We all know how important it is to stretch out our muscles, especially after a run, so here's a series of five stretches I like to do.
|Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch - From a Down Dog position (this is a great stretch for your calves too), step your right foot forward between your hands. Lower your left knee onto the ground (make sure it's a padded surface - fold up a towel or use a thin block if you're on bare floor). Bring your hands to your front knee, pressing your shoulders back to increase the stretch in the front of your left thigh.
Take 5 or more deep breaths, then plant your hands down, step your right foot back, then step your left foot forward and do the other side.
|Hamstring Stretch - Once again start in a Down Dog, then step your right foot forward about halfway between your hands and feet, so your feet are about 3 feet apart. Keep your torso low, and walk your hands back toward your feet. Place your hands on your front leg, ankle, or if you can reach, place them on the ground. Try to keep your front leg straight to stretch your right hamstring.
Stay for 5 or more breaths, then plant your palms, step your right leg back, then step your left leg forward and do the other side.
Want to see the 3 other stretches? Then read more
|Hip and Inner Thigh Stretch (Butterfly) - Sit on the ground, bend your knees and bring the soles of your feet together. You can use your elbows to press your knees down towards the ground to stretch out your hips even more.
Stay here or fold forward to increase the intensity. You can keep your hands on your feet or reach your arms straight out in front of you. Take 5 or more breaths.
|Hip and Hamstring Stretch (Head to Knee pose) - From Butterfly pose, keep your right knee bent and straighten out your left leg. Press the sole of your right foot against your left inner thigh.
Fold over your left leg, trying to keep both shoulders parallel with the ground. Stay for 5 or more deep breaths. Then lift your torso up, straighten out your right leg, bend your left knee, and do the other side.
|Double Hamstring Stretch (Seated Straddle) - From a seated position, straighten out both legs in a straddle (or "V") position. Place your hands on the ground in front of you and start to walk them out away from your hips.
Try doing this pose with different distances between your legs - it will change the position of where you feel the stretch. Stay in each for 5 or more breaths.
Try this sequence the next time you go for a run. If I do these 5 stretches, I'm never sore the next day. If you feel really inflexible the first time you try them, just keep at it. Your muscles will respond and begin to lengthen and stretching will get easier. Who knows you may actually start to enjoy stretching!