We are pumped to share one of our favorite stories from Self here on FitSugar!
Whether you're a newbie runner who has just strapped on her brand-new sneaks or a seasoned, PR-ing pro, there's always room to get a little bit faster, right? We nabbed an exclusive performance-boosting routine designed specifically to improve flexibility, strength and speed.
"Most people think that stretching is boring, but stretching regularly increases flexibility and range of motion, allowing for a stronger stride," says Jen Smith, group fitness director at Equinox Fitness Club in Marina del Rey, California, who created the below routine. "It also improves circulation greatly to keep muscles warm and speeds recovery after injury."
Find a table or ledge that is as high as the full length of your leg. Stand facing the ledge arm's distance away, feet shoulder-width apart, hands on the ledge or table at shoulder height. Take a few steps back and bend at the waist until your spine is parallel with the floor. Be sure to stretch your hips away from the wall, lifting your lower belly in and back. Lengthen your lower back but be sure to keep the pelvis stable. Stretch the crown of your head forward holding this position for 10 breaths. If you feel after 10 breaths, you can lower your hands halfway down, carefully lower then stay there for 10 more breaths. For a deeper stretch, bring your hands all the way down to the ground or wrap your arms around your leg and press your palms into your calves for a full forward fold.
Get the rest of the stretches after the break!
Twisted Wide Forward Bend
Stand with your legs spread about one legs-distance apart and keep your feet parallel, toes pointing slightly inward with your hands on your hips. Keep your hips stable and bend forward from the hips, bringing your fingertips or palms to the floor. Now walk both hands toward the right leg putting equal weight on both feet and hips so they're even on one plane. Hold this for 10 breaths then walk the hands over to the left side.
Bound Angle Pose
Sit on the floor and bring the soles of your feet together. Bring your heels as close to your groin as you can while keeping your spine straight. Press the soles of your feet together to allow your thighs to descend towards the floor. If your elbows reach your thighs, allow them to act as weights, sending your legs closer to the floor. Never force your knees down. Instead, release the heads of the thigh bones towards the floor so your knees will follow. If you have trouble keeping the spine straight, sit on a folded blanket. Take 10 breaths. At the end of those 10 breaths, descend a little further and take 10 more breaths.
Seated Forward Fold
Sit down on the floor with your legs extended in front of you, heels slightly flexed and belly button pulled into the spine for support. Inhale and sit tall then raise your arms in the air. Exhale, lean forward and reach for your toes. Allow your head to drop and gaze past the end of your nose. Straighten your legs, flex your feet and engage the quadriceps. Don't lock your knees. If you can't touch the floor, wrap a towel around your feet and grab either end with your hands. If your hamstrings are tight, you can always bend your legs slightly.
Kneeling on the floor, draw your right foot forward and bend your right knee 90 degrees so your shin and thigh are perpendicular and your thigh is parallel to the floor. Drop your left knee back and down using a towel underneath if your knees are sensitive. Keeping your hips stable, lift your spine up then draw your low belly and ribs in. Placing your hands up on your front thigh will help draw your torso away from your thigh to create a strong stretch through the hip flexor. Repeat on the other side.
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