After an exhausting run or race, you might be tempted to sit or lie down. But getting off your feet too soon could cause muscles and tendons to tighten up, says Chris Ramsey, D.P.T., O.C.S., a physical therapist and triathlete from Portland, Oregon. A better recovery plan is to immediately hydrate and then do these stretches to increase elasticity and reduce stiffness. Ramsey recommends doing them in a dynamic manner: Hold each one for a second or two (to the point of slight tension); release momentarily; then stretch again. Do a total of 20 reps.
1) Hamstring Stretch
Extend your right leg so your right heel is on the ground in front of you. Bend your left knee and slowly lower your hips down and back, as if you were sitting into an imaginary chair. Keep your upper body tall. Repeat on opposite side.
2) Calf Stretch
Stand with both feet on a curb or step. Move the heel of your right foot backward so it’s hanging off the curb. Lower your right heel down so you can feel a deep stretch in your calf muscle. Bend both knees to deepen the stretch.
3) Glute and Piriformis Stretch
Cross your right ankle just above your left knee and lower down into a squatting position. Hold onto a friend or a tree for balance if necessary. If comfortable, gently push down on your right knee. Repeat on opposite leg.
4) Chest Stretch
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Lace your fingers together behind your head above your neck. Squeeze your shoulder blades together while trying to extend your elbows out to the sides and slightly back to open your chest.
5) Quad Stretch
While standing on your left leg, bring your right heel back, and grab your right foot or ankle with your left hand. Gently pull your foot toward your tailbone. Keep your knees aligned, and don’t arch your back. Repeat on your other leg.
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Source: Runner's World (www.runnersworld.com)