ALL ABOUT THE STRETCH

Your Baby & Toddler - - Exercise -

One of the most over­looked com­po­nents of run­ning is the im­por­tance of stretches. This is not only ben­e­fi­cial as it im­proves the over­all range of move­ment of a joint, but it also goes a long way in pre­vent­ing in­juries and re­duces the rate of de­gen­er­a­tion and com­pen­sa­tions within other joints. These are a few safe stretches that ben­e­fit run­ners in par­tic­u­lar.

STRETCH 1

This stretch is de­signed to im­prove the range of mo­tion of the ham­strings and neu­ral struc­tures of the sci­atic nerve.

WHAT TO DO

✔ Sit up as straight as you can on the floor, us­ing your arms as sup­port and your legs straight in front of you.

✔ Place your one foot on top of your other, mak­ing sure that your toes are flexed and point­ing up to the ceil­ing.

✔ If that still does not feel like a stretch, gen­tly bend for­ward with your body. Keep your back straight and your chin tucked in.

LOOK OUT FOR

✔ Be care­ful not to hunch your shoul­ders for­ward or poke your head for­ward.

✔ Make sure that your knees are straight and that your feet are point­ing up­wards.

STRETCH 2

This im­proves the range of mo­tion of your hip flex­ors and quadri­ceps.

WHAT TO DO

✔ Kneel into a lunge po­si­tion, with one foot in front of the other far enough so that if you were to lean for­ward, your knee would still be be­hind your toes.

✔ Pull your navel in to­ward your spine and tuck your pelvis in so as to pre­vent your back from arch­ing.

✔ Keep your shoul­ders back and lean for­ward un­til you feel the stretch.

LOOK OUT FOR

✔ Do not lean for­ward with your arms onto your leg.

✔ Con­cen­trate on mak­ing sure that your hip bones al­ways point for­ward and never ro­tate, as this changes the group of mus­cles you are stretch­ing.

✔ Do not arch your lower back.

STRETCH 3

This stretch is de­signed to im­prove the range of mo­tion of your Achilles ten­don and calf mus­cles. It is im­por­tant to stretch both as the calf mus­cles in­sert onto the heel bone via the Achilles ten­don and are ef­fec­tively one unit that re­ally works hard dur­ing run­ning. When this area is tight, you tend to pronate your foot (roll your foot in) more, caus­ing many in­juries, some of which in­clude shin splints and the in­fa­mous ITB ten­don in­flam­ma­tion known mostly by run­ners.

WHAT TO DO

✔ Find the edge of a street curb or step and place your toes on the edge, push­ing your heel down.

✔ Place your weight on the leg of the toes that are against the curb, keep­ing your knee straight. Hold for 15 sec­onds.

✔ Pull your navel in to­ward your spine and tuck your pelvis in so as to pre­vent your back from arch­ing.

✔ Keep your shoul­ders back and lean for­ward un­til you feel the stretch.

✔ Then bend the knee of the leg you are stretch­ing and the stretch will move down­ward to your Achilles ten­don area.

LOOK OUT FOR

✔ Do not lean stick­ing your bot­tom out, keep your body as straight up as pos­si­ble.

✔ The higher you place your toes up on the step or curb, the more stretch you will ex­pe­ri­ence through­out your leg.

✔ This stretch is easy to overdo so be wise and only push to the point where you start feel­ing it.

STRETCH 4

This stretch is de­signed to im­prove the range of mo­tion of your outer thigh and but­tock mus­cles. It may also help with the pre­ven­tion of sci­atic nerve pain and lower back pain.

WHAT TO DO

✔ Lie down on the floor on your back with your knees bent.

✔ Cross one leg over the other like a man would cross his legs.

✔ Twist in the di­rec­tion that the crossed leg is point­ing to un­til that foot touches the ground.

✔ Stretch the arm of the same side out per­pen­dic­u­lar to your body with your palm fac­ing up.

✔ Keep both of your shoul­ders flat down on the ground.

✔ If this is not enough stretch for you, gen­tly grab your knee with the op­po­site hand and pull it down to­ward the ground.

LOOK OUT FOR

✔ Do not lift your shoul­der off the ground. ✔ Make sure you keep your legs crossed at your an­kle and not at your knee as you twist your body.

STRETCH 5

This im­proves the range of mo­tion of your ITB. The ITB is a ten­don band that stretches from the out­side of your hip and down your leg, and in­serts onto the shin part of your knee. It is one of the most com­mon in­juries that oc­cur in run­ners and be­comes quite tight once some­one starts run­ning reg­u­larly. Keep­ing this area flex­i­ble goes a long way to pre­vent­ing that in­jury from oc­cur­ring, so this is an im­por­tant stretch to get right.

WHAT TO DO

✔ Stand side­ways along­side a wall. If your left side is near­est the wall, cross your right an­kle over your left. Stand on both feet.

✔ Push your hip away from the wall in a C curve for­ma­tion, bring­ing your right arm over your head to touch the wall. Lift the big toe of your right foot off the ground.

✔ Hold for 15 sec­onds.

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