I love nothing more than wearing bright, bold colors. The summer after freshman year of college I even dyed some of my hair blue. What can I say, colors attract me and I have no shame in letting the world know.
So it was probably no surprise when I came barreling down the stairs the other night in knee-high purple socks (with holes in them. Like all my socks somehow have. Does anyone else have this problem?) and a blue tye-die shirt. I tossed Brett my camera, gleefully yelling “TAKE MY PICTURE!” and began blasting Jay-Z radio from my laptop. An attempt at hip hop dancing ensued.
In theory, this scene should end with me on the floor, having hurt myself somehow.
The results of stretching
The results, however, are a bit cheerier.
Rather than gleaning some generic pictures from google, I decided to post pictures of myself going through some post-exercise stretches. I make a point of going through these flows (they’re based in yoga) after every run (outside, treadmill, or elliptical). When I have time I also go through them after lifting, but don’t find it quite as necessary (or cathartic).
Stretching before or after a run is one of those controversial, debated topics that haunts forums and blogs across the internet. Fit Day recommends about 10 minutes of full body stretching prior to every run. Health Land and WebMD report that stretching before a run doesn’t impact injury rate. However, sticking to a stretching routine does (in other words, if you usually stretch before hand, don’t suddenly switch to stretching after, or vice versa). Running Competitor cautions against static stretching, or, if it feels good, advises following them with some dynamic movements before hitting the pavement. Cool Running suggests that stretching before and after is the most important five to ten minutes of your
life exercise. Spark People offers six stretches to implement post-run.
In short: the jury still seems confused about this one. Like anything, it probably depends a lot more on individual biology, history, environment, etc.
A few months ago I asked one of my yoga teachers for advice on some quick, easy stretches for runners. With her suggestions in mind, I put together this little flow. It works for me, reduces my muscle fatigue, and allows me to calm down a bit after whatever cardio work I just completed.
How I stretch
I begin with three shoulder rolls forward, then three shoulder rolls back.
Then three neck rolls to the left and three to the right.
Hands over head, pinkies spiraling in, heels firmly grounded.
Heels grounded, stretch to the right.
Heels grounded, stretch to the left.
Clasp hands, heels grounded, lightly stretch backwards.
“Swan dive” (arms extend out to either side and down) to touch toes. I spend a little bit of time here the first time, stretching into my lower back.
Half way up, straightened back.
Back into the forward fold.
I’ll repeat this three to five times, depending on how I feel, how much time I have, etc.
Downward Dog – heels lightly driving towards the ground (mine don’t touch the ground), back flat, palms planted.
Bring the right leg forward (making sure my knee doesn’t go past my ankle) into a runner’s lunge, stretching the left leg behind, toes on the ground.
Bring torso up for Warrior 1, arms extended out, looking past the right hand.
Keeping legs where they are, release left arm onto left leg and bring right arm overhead.
Come back to Warrior 1, hips even, tilt hips slightly back, rest right arm on right thigh and extend left arm overhead, creating a long line from left foot to left hand.
From there I go back into a runner’s lunge on the right side and back into downward dog, then repeat the sequence for my left side.
Legs spread wide, back flat, place palms on the ground.
Walk hands back, as far as needed to feel a stretch.
Rotate toes slightly out and walk hands to one side, making sure the knee doesn’t move past the ankle.
Walk hands to other side. Repeat these two poses, walking back and forth – I usually do 3-5.
My legs are unnaturally long, but find a table or counter or railing about hip height. Standing Pidgeon – rest your knee to ankle on a flat surface, standing straight.
And the other side.
That’s it! If I somehow (magically) have enough time, I might do one to three more of the first set of sequences, omitting the side and back stretches.
What types of stretches do you do? Do you stretch before or after your routine?