It seems like running is the hip exercise lately! So many people that I know are lacing up and hitting the road to get in shape. Unfortunately, running can be tough on the body, but a good stretching routine can help balance out the impact from pounding the pavement.
Some exercisers like to stretch before and after a run. If you’re already stretching before you run, keep it up, but if that’s not part of your routine, there’s really no need to stretch before running. Walking for a few blocks before you pick up the pace should warm up your muscles just fine.
Proper stretching is just as important for your health as your workout, and because running is so high impact it’s a good idea to focus even more on stretches to help your body recover. When you run, you impact your hips, knees, calves, ankles, thighs, and feet, and it’s a good idea to give your upper body a good stretch after running, as well as hitting those problem areas. Here are some yoga-inspired stretches to help your body recover from running.
1. Garland Pose
Stand with your feet hip-width apart, then lower down into a squatting position. You can separate your knees a bit, so that your upper body can rest between them, then straighten your back, and bring your hands into prayer position. If you can’t get your heels on the floor in this posture, don’t fret! You can place your hands on the floor to help support yourself until your ankles and arches stretch enough to do the full pose. Hold for 10 deep breaths.
Stand with your feet in a wide stance, toes pointing forward. Rotate your feet so that your toes point inwards ever so slightly, then bend forward at your waist with a straight back until you can place your hands on the floor. Hang here, letting gravity stretch your back and the backs of your legs, for 10 deep breaths. If you want to go deeper, you can grab hold of your ankles and gently pull your upper body further down. Just make sure you don’t pull too hard – you don’t want to injure yourself!
Image Credit: Creative Commons photo by lululemon athletica