As you know, I am not a medical professional or personal trainer! Take my advice as you would take a friend’s advice and consult professionals/adults before you do anything crazy! 😜 If the stretching creates a sharp pain, please stop before you hurt yourself.
I. am. sore.
For some reason, I decided to do a 45-minute leg workout yesterday and then roller blade almost 7 miles… not sure what I was thinking! 😂 ouch.
Anyways, I’m sore – the kind of sore that makes it hard to stand, sit, move. Funny, this was supposed to be a rest week from running, but I just ended up cross-training way too hard.
When I’m sore, I have to stretch effectively and efficiently. And since many of you are runners or athletic in some way or another, I thought you might like to see just how I do that.
My stretching is divided up into two main parts: touching my toes and foam-rolling. Touching my toes targets the back of my legs and foam-rolling mainly targets the front of my legs. I’ll do some other classic stretches as well, but if I need to loosen up fast, this is how I do it. Throughout this article, I’ll be referring to specific muscles, so if you’re confused, take a look at this chart to see what muscles I’m talking about.
Touching Your Toes
I’ve found that one stretch held for a long time loosens me up more than several quick stretches do. In my case, that one stretch is touching my toes. Touching my toes has been the only way I’ve been able to effectively stretch my calves and hamstrings: two muscles that are hard to really get loose. I set a 5- to 10-minute timer and touch my toes for the entirety of that interval. As the minutes pass, I reposition my feet to target specific muscles (pictured below).
This is what most people mean by “touching your toes”. It pretty much targets the entire back of your leg. Adding to level 1, if you tilt your head up, look ahead of you and shift your hips back, you can target your hamstrings as well.
This one is simple, but it hits a less-stretched muscle. Cross your feet and straighten your back leg. Your front knee can be slightly bent. This will target the muscle behind your knee, also called the IT band.
This stretch helped me a lot while I was recovering from shin splints. Pointing your toes inward will target the outside portion of your calves, and pointing your toes outward will target the inside portion of your calves.
This stretch will specifically target the upper portion of your legs, but to feel this stretch you have to shift your hips backward. If you have trouble doing this, look up in front of you (instead of at the ground/your legs) and your hips should shift back naturally.
Foam-rolling is totally underrated! You can get a foam roller here, or even at Walmart for less than $10, and it’s definitely worth it! Foam-rolling will hurt a bit more than stretching does, but it helps to relieve deep tightness and soreness. Again, the way you position your feet will affect which muscles you target.
Point your feet toward the ground to target your quads, point your feet outward to target your inner thighs, and cross your feet to target both. For a full foam-roller stretch, Sydney Cummings has a few great follow-along videos to help you learn how to use a foam roller effectively.
For a great stretching routine when you have some time, check out this video too. It’s short and effective, and I’ve used it dozens of times.
That’s all I have for you today! I hope this helps you get loose and recover well from those hard workouts! Thanks for reading!
What is your go-to stretch or stretch routine?
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