Don’t forget to stretch before & after your race

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Saturday, 16 January 2016 1158 Views 0 Comments
Don’t forget to stretch before & after your race

 

Even though you may be physically drained after your race, stretching, both before and after, is extremely crucial.

 

Stretching is perhaps one of the most ignored areas of running, even though it may be unintentional. While a majority of runners do understand the importance of having supple muscles to avoid injuries, the fatigue that sets in at the end of a run, especially in the case of long runs, means that stretching is often ignored. Most runners do NO stretching during warm up and cursory hamstring or calf stretches post the run.

 

It is important to understand the difference between mobility and flexibility, because as a runner, you will need mobility much more than sheer flexibility.

 

Mobility: A person with great mobility is able to perform functional movement patterns with no restrictions in the range of motion (ROM) of those movements.
Flexibility: A flexible person may or may not have the core strength, balance, or coordination to perform the same functional movements as the person with great mobility.

 

In simpler words:

•       Mobility = Functional movement of joints

•       Flexibility = Ability to lengthen a muscle

 

Here’s what mobility offers you in terms of a run:

•       Elements beyond muscles, such as soft tissue, joint cavity and ligaments.

•       Motor control and hence “nervous” system firing.

•       Is driven by multiple muscle groups and is affected by muscle imbalances. For instance, knee joint mobility is not determined by the flexibility of hamstring alone, but also by the flexibility in the quadriceps, the strength of stabilizers such as TFL and adductors, bone strength and ligament strength.

 

Flexibility is one of the elements, a SUBSET factor that determines mobility.

 

Mobility exercises are crucial for runners to ensure an injury–free run, coupled with enhanced running efficiency. There are many exercises and commonly-done stretches, but here are a few different and simple stretches which are absolutely crucial if you are a runner:

 

Ankle Mobility: It will ensure enhanced running efficiency by maximum torque generation and will help avoid undue stress on the knee by absorbing maximal impact. It will also avoid issues from excessive pronation or supination

Mobility Exercises:

  • Vajrasan On Hard Surface: If you can sit in this position for at least three minutes without any soreness or pain, it is a sign of good ankle mobility.
  • With practice you can increase the time period, but make sure you are on a hard surface and not a soft one. During the initial stages, you can keep a rolled towel below your ankles to make it easier.
  • Vajrasan also automatically stretches your quadriceps and enhances posture with core strengthening, if done regularly for longer periods.

Vajrasana

Wall Calf Stretch: It is the most common stretch done by runners, but is often done incorrectly.

  • Keep the rear leg straight in the knee and make sure your body remains in a straight line.
  • Often, your hips can get pushed ahead, which can lead to compensation for lack of ankle mobility.

Wall Calf Stretch

Hip Mobility: Hips are perhaps the most important joint in the run as they produce force as well as offer the stability you need. Most knee pains and discomfort in other parts of your lower body are a result of issues around the hip joint, such as tight hip flexors, weak glutes and so on.

 

Wall Quadriceps Stretch: Supple quadriceps is the key determinant of a soreness-free run. The limber the quadriceps, the lower resistance they will offer to the hamstrings. It will also improve their ability of shock absorption on landing.

  • While doing the exercise, make sure that your rear knee is touching the wall and the ankle is fully stretched (you will need ankle mobility for this).
  • This is your starting point. With practice you will gradually be able to raise your torso to touch your back flat against the wall, as shown in image 2.

 

Wall Quadricep Stretch2

Olympic Wall Squat: For this exercise, you simply need to face the wall and perform a squat.

  • Try to be in a position that your knees touch the wall while your back remains straight. If touching the knees to the wall and performing a squat requires you to excessively arch your back, refrain from performing this exercise with your face to the wall.
  • Instead, face away from the wall, with your back flush against the wall, and try to split your legs as wide as possible, as illustrated in image 2 below.

Olympic Wall SquatOlympic Wall Squat 2

 

 

(Sameer Kanse is the Head of Products and Commercial, Global Media and Entertainment Solutions, Tata Communications. He is a fitness enthusiast and has done Certified Personal Training Course from American College of Sports Medicine. He is reachable at sameer.kanse@gmail.com)

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