Stretching after a workout helps muscles recover. Especially if you do something very hard and demanding like running or biking. Not stretching those muscles can lead to them becoming tense, tight, and possibly strained.
Rocky and I always take a good 5 to 10 minutes to stretch after a workout. The one muscle I always forget to stretch are my calves! I need to make sure I take care of them.
Otherwise, I make sure to stretch out my IT band first if I’ve had a semi-long run (6 miles and up). This is the stretch I prefer for the IT band. I do not raise my hand in the air though. I stand in a doorway and lean on that while sticking my hip out to the opposite side, as far as it will go. This stretch you will feel in your hip area but it works the entire IT band and goes all the way down your leg. If you’ve got IT band pain in the hip or thigh area, this will feel amazing. It will hurt if the band is tight but it will feel awesome after you’re done.
Pigeon pose will also help open your hips and stretch the IT band as well.
Next I stretch out my hips and quads with a deep runner’s lunge. I have my knee on the floor and I really lean into the lung. This helps open and stretch out my hips. This is a great stretch even after short runs and is a must for me. I do this stretch all the time.
Then I lift up my leg that’s on the floor, grab my foot, and lean forward. This stretches out my quad and is the only stretch that really targets my quad muscles. All other quad stretches do nothing for me and I really can’t feel that stretch. This however is an intense stretch I feel every time.
After I’ve stretched out my hips and quads, it’s time to move to the hamstring and glutes.
I do basic hamstring stretches for the hammies. One set on the floor and the other set with an elevated leg. On the floor, I lay on my back, lift one leg in the air and grab it gently by my calf. I then gently pull it towards me to stretch the hamstring. I repeat with the other leg and do this twice.
With an elevated leg, I prop my leg up on my stairs to about hip height, lean over that leg and stretch it out.
If they feel really tight, I’ll add in a downward dog to help stretch those and my calf muscles.
For the glutes, I do a piriformis stretch which feels amazing and works great at stretching the glute out after a really intense run.
Of course I always recommend foam rolling as well. Do this after stretching and really target the areas that are tight or feel the most sore as you roll. Foam rollers are inexpensive and a must have for runners and athletes.
As athletes, stretching keeps us flexible, allows us to become stronger, and helps prevent injury. As someone who has dealt with and is currently dealing with a sports related injury, I can assure you that keeping our bodies in top shape is extremely important.
Do you stretch after working out? Which is your favorite stretch and which stretch do you feel works the best for you?