My yoga post-run leg stretches

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

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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.

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3) Quads (front of thighs)

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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.

4) Hamstring 

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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)

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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.

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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…

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sian

Yoga for non-yogies

I’ve never been very good at yoga. I’ve tried so many classes and always been the numpty at the back of the room doing the wrong thing, or unable to get into the simplest of positions. However, I’ve been keen to try again over the last few weeks to help strengthen and stretch out my ridiculously tight leg muscles. In a last-ditch attempt to learn to love yoga, I hired in the help of the lovely Kristine at Bicester Hatha Yoga. I told her that I needed help sorting my knackered old legs out after the craziness that was trail running in Chamonix.

I’ve had four 1 to 1 sessions and it’s been wonderful – it’s been so lovely in the evenings we’ve even done a bit of al fresco yoga. Although, not sure what the neighbours think to the ‘Ommm, shanti, shanti, shanti’ chanting.

I’ve always liked the idea and the results of yoga – let’s face it most yoga teachers look amazing, but I’ve never really liked the execution of it, thinking that it as too slow and easy. I am eating my words now as by god it’s tough! Kristine largely practises core strength Vinyasa yoga, which has had me grimacing at times (in a good way)! She’s tailored the sessions to focus on my legs too so she has built in a few hamstring, calf, quad and glute strengthening and stretching poses.

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My favourite poses are downward facing dog (above), which is great for stretching out tight calf muscles and this plank exercise below (not sure what it’s called, but it’s a killer for the core). I also adore the half pigeon stretch for the glutes too.

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I am already seeing the results – just four sessions have massively improved my flexibility in my calves! It seems I am a yoga convert!

sian

 

Cross training is where it’s at

By cross training I don’t mean the machine in the gym, but mixing it up a bit rather than sticking to the same old, same old.

Fot the past 6 months I’ve had some big running events to train for – the Brighton Half Marathon in February and the Marathon in April – so I’ve had to cram in so much running I haven’t really had the time for anything else.

I’ve been doing quite a few bits of cross training lately:

  • Walking – people always underestimate how good for you walking is, but I really enjoy it. You might even save some money too if you walk instead of driving.
  • Thai boxing – I find this great fun and really good exercise, plus it’s a great stress reliever as you get to imagine you are punching someone you can’t stand!
  • Weight training with hand weights – I like doing this whilst watching the TV to try and tone my arms.
  • Climbing – forget the marathon, I ached for at least a week after half a day rock climbing and because you are having fun and using your brain you don’t notice just how tired you are!
  • Exercise DVDs – I find these easy to fit in in to my mornings or evenings. I love Davina’s Body Buff because you can choose which area you want to focus on (abs, arms, card etc).
  • Spinning – It’s definitely a good cardio workout and also low impact training for your legs and butt so I’m all for this on non-running days.
  • Pilates – I’ve just started doing this – it’s going to take me a while to get used to, but you definitely feel the burn in the abs and the legs afterwards.
  • You probably guessed by now I love yoga. If nothing else, I find it good to do on rest days as it’s really relaxing.

How do you cross train?

Yoga Run days out in Brighton

We are hoping to set up our very first Dashing-Divas.com ‘Yoga Run’ running and hot yoga days out in Brighton on a Saturday or Sunday starting at 10.30am.

The day will include a run for an hour (5-6 miles) along Brighton beach followed by 1.5h hot yoga. The plan is to get the train to Brighton, drop our stuff off at the yoga studio, run and then back for the yoga session, shower, change and then lunch or head on home.

Hot yoga and running work so well together, especially if you have really tight muscles or you are guilty of not stretching properly after a run (like me!).

If you are interested in coming along drop us a line: dashingdivasuk@gmail.com or get in touch on twitter @Tinyholder. It should be a good fun day out and great exercise too!

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