Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Stretch for Success

So you want to get the most out of your exercise? Stretching will help prevent you from injury whilst speeding up your running allowing you to increase your stride length, giving you the ability to stride out when needed. Here are a few stretches to keep your legs in tip top condition:

Just a simple stretching regime incorporated into your daily routine can lead to quick improvements in flexibility. I would recommend that you do the following stretches 3 times a day if you want to improve quickly, once daily will maintain current flexibility and improve it very slowly over time. I recommend you hold each stretch for as long as 20-30 seconds, stretching for less than 10 seconds will have a very limited affect.

Stretches: 1. Calf stretch - Stand facing a wall, place your hands on the wall and lean towards the wall with one leg in front of the other (about 2 1/2 feet between each foot) so that your front knee is bent, keep your back foot flat on the ground, as you lean towards the wall, you should feel the stretch up your back calf.

2. Calf stretch 2 - Same as above but with back leg also bent (harder to do). Works slightly different muscles within the calf.

3. Quad stretch - Grab your ankle/foot and pull it up to your buttocks, hold the foot with the same hand (i.e. right hand holds right foot) to keep muscles correctly aligned. To further the stretch push hips forward to improve the stretch and partially stretch you hip flexors.

4. Hip flexors/Groin - Move one leg forward so that your knee is over your front ankle and your knee is at 90 degrees to the ground, rest your other knee on the ground with your other leg behind you. Push your hips forward and downwards to stretch your hip flexors.

5. Adductors - Stand with your legs wide apart (better if your feet are parrallel to each other). Bend one knee and lean/pivot towards that knee, you should feel the adductors of the straight leg being stretched.

6. Abductor stretch - Whilst standing, put your right leg over your left leg. Keeping your legs straight(ish), lean towards the right hand side, you should feel this stretch your left abductor. Opposite for other leg.

7. Groin/hip adductor - Sit down with your backs straight, put your feet together (sole to sole) in front of you, use your elbows to push knees down towards the floor. Lean forwards to aid the stretch, however remember to lead from the waist not your shoulders.

8. Hamstring stretch - Sit on the floor, put the sole of left foot towards your right crotch, put your right leg straight on the ground in front of you, lean forwards from your hips with your arms outstretched towards your foot. Opposite for other leg.

There are many many more stretches out there but I'm sure this will be enough to keep you going on with for the time being!
Best of luck!

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