Coach's Corner: Stretching with Philip Sanford

September 16, 2020 7:58 AM | Melissa Seuster (Administrator)

Stretching is key to maintaining your body before and after your runs and walks, as well as during rest times in between activities. In this post, we will review the two main types of stretching, when to do them, and some examples of those stretches.

Static Stretching

A static stretch is when you are keeping your body still and make a controlled movement using flexion and extension concentrated on a certain muscle for stretching. During a static stretch, you hold that flexion or extension position for a certain period of time, alternating between sides and limbs.

The best time to complete static stretching is after a run or walk and during rest periods in between activities. A static stretch after an activity increases flexibility, range of motion, and blood flow in your muscles, joints, and other soft tissue areas that moving into a recovery mode. Consistent stretching will reduce stiffness and soreness, which will result in your body being prepared for the next activity.

Some common static stretches include:

Hamstring - Stand with your back against the wall or lay on a hard, flat surface. Raise your knee towards your chest, grab it with both hands and pull it against your chest until you can feel your hamstring being stretched. Hold it in that position for 10 to 15 seconds and switch to the other leg. Repeat up to three times for each leg.

Quadriceps - Grab on to a sturdy object or lean into a wall. Kick your heel up behind you and grab the front of your foot. Pull your foot towards your buttocks and keep the rest of your leg straight until you can feel your quadriceps being stretched. Hold it in that position for 10 to 15 seconds and switch to the other leg. Repeat up to three times for each leg.

Calf - Place both hands against a wall or other sturdy object. Back your feet up until you have a straight line from your head to your heels at about a 60-degree angle. Keep one heel on the ground with that leg remaining straight and step forward with the other leg. This will stretch the leg that remains straight. Hold it in that position for 10 to 15 seconds and switch to the other leg. Repeat up to three times for each leg.

Achilles - Follow the same steps as the calf stretch, but slightly bend your knees. Keep one heel on the ground with the slightly bent knee and step forward with the other leg. This will stretch the Achilles tendon for the leg in the back. Hold it in that position for 10 to 15 seconds and switch to the other leg. Repeat up to three times for each leg.

Dynamic Stretching

The main difference between static and dynamic stretching is dynamic stretching is done while moving and mimicking the movements of the activity that you are about to perform. The movement during dynamic stretching will prepare your muscles for the upcoming activity and get your body warmed up to lessen the shock when the activity begins.

Some common dynamic stretches include:

High knees - Start in a position like you are going to start a run or a walk and then lift your knee up. Once that foot comes back down, lift the opposite knee, and repeat this as you move forward. Keep your hands and arms moving in proper running form. As you get more experienced with high knees, your knees will get higher and the turnover in your legs will get quicker. Go 20 to 40 meters doing this and repeat it two or three times.

Butt kicks - This one is self-explanatory. Kick your heel up in a fluid motion until it taps your buttocks. Once that foot comes back down, repeat it with your opposite heel. Keep your hands and arms moving in proper running form. As you get more experienced with butt kicks, the turnover in your legs will get quicker. Go 20 to 40 meters doing this and repeat it two or three times.

Skips - Spring your body up and forward using the muscles in one leg. Once you hit the ground, immediately spring up and forward again using the opposite leg. As you push up and forward with your right leg, move your left knee up as you would in high knees; same goes for right knee when you push with your left leg. During this, swing your arms in an exaggerated running motion in the same rhythm as the skips. Go 40 to 50 meters doing this and repeat it two or three times.

Philip Sanford is an RRCA-certified running coach who writes a coaching blog at https://team-sanford.com. You may sign up for his newsletter by using this link.


 


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