You have trained for weeks to give your best race day performance. You manage to push off at the right time, hydrate during the race and finish strong, and possibly manage a personal best time. All that’s well and good, but do you stretch after the race? The 15-20 minutes just after a race might just be the difference between you celebrating the day, or limping around your house. Because stretching and recovery after a race is a key part of any training schedule, but one that far too many people don’t bother doing.
While it’s a great idea to go through a full body stretch after your run, you might not always have the time. However, do cover the basics: stretch out your hips, ankles and thoracic spine. If done regularly, stretching these areas will let your muscles recover faster, prevent cramps and improve your overall mobility.
Downward dog to lunge: Lie face down on the floor, palms next you shoulder. Slowly push your hip towards the ceiling while lowering your heels towards the floor. To make it tougher, you can take a few steps back. At this point, you will make an inverted V shape with your arms and legs fully stretched out.
Next, slowly bring your hips down to mid-range and bring one leg forward into a lunge. Place your feet next to your hand to feel a deep stretch. Hold this position for 30 seconds. Repeat with other leg. Do this five times with each leg.
Quad stretch:Stand upright and use a pole, bench or tree for balance. Fold one leg and hold the ankle from behind. Try to touch your glutes with the ankle of your folded knee. Then do this with the other leg. Repeat 10 times.
Hamstring stretch:This basic stretch is also one of the toughest to do after a run. Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Keep your knees soft and bend forward. Try to touch the ground with your fingers. If it is easy, then place the palm on the ground. If it feels difficult, hold on to your ankles and try to slowly go down further every few seconds. Hold the position for 30 seconds. Repeat a few times.
Adductor stretch:The inner thigh muscles can be especially tricky after a fast or long run. Sit on a yoga mat with your legs in front. Bend them so that the feet touch each other, in a diamond position. Try to keep your knees close to the ground. You can apply more pressure with your elbows to push the knees down as well. If it seems easy, slowly bring the feet closer to your groin.
Lower back and chest stretch:Lie with your legs stretched out. Slowly bend your knees and hips at 90 degrees. Let your arms out to either side. Slowly lower your legs to the floor. Repeat on the other side.
IT band stretch:Stand tall and cross your right leg in front of your left. Lift your right hand up to the sky and keep your left arm at your side.Bend slightly forward and reach with the right arm over your head toward your left side. Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat on the other side.