Now that I am running more and asking more and more of my leg muscles, joints and ligaments, I feel as though I need a decent post-run stretch. The usual standing stretches just don’t cut the mustard anymore – they are not deep enough for me. Here are some of the stretches I use now:
1) Calf muscles
I defy anyone to find a deeper calf stretch than the downward facing dog. Have your hands shoulder width apart in front of you and form a pyramid. Imagine that someone is lifting your pelvis. At the same time, try to get your feet flat on the floor (it’s very difficult to do this, so don’t worry if you can’t at all!). You should feel an amazing stretch down the back of your calf muscles.
2) Hip flexors
From downward facing dog, throw your right leg back and step forward so that your foot lands between your hands (take as many steps forward as you need to get your leg level with your shoulder). Straighten your back and put your hands on your hips. Feel the stretch on your hip flexors.
3) Quads (front of thighs)
This quite a difficult one, but it gives you an amazing quad and hip flexor stretch. Grab you back foot and pull and lean forward. To protect the knee, lean forward more so that the knee is off the ground.
From step 2, lean back and bring you front foot up, lean forward to extend the stretch.
Repeat steps 2, 3 and 4 on the opposite leg.
5) Glutes (buttocks)
This is called the half pigeon and it’s one of my favourite yoga stretches. From downward facing dog, bring your right leg forward and place your right knee behind your right hand. Rest your back leg on the floor (toe pointed and resting on the floor). Once you have warmed up, lean forward and place your arms out flat in front of you (almost so that you are lying down into the stretch). Repeat for the opposite leg.
I try to do these stretches daily and after every run (never immediately before a run though).
And here’s a random cat picture just because…