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Stretching Strategies for Before and After Your Race

Whether you’re a seasoned marathon runner, a casual jogger or intrigued beginner, stretching before and after a run is essential to feeling your best and avoiding injuries. Ben Bring, DO, Medical Director for the OhioHealth Capital City Half & Quarter Marathon, and Amy Harrison, Athletic Trainer with the OhioHealth Runner’s Clinic, have created a fun stretching series to help you understand which stretches are best, and how and when to do them. Please enjoy their video below, or read the following video breakdown.

Warm Up Stretches

Hip flexors and hamstrings

Modified butt kicker
Standing upright, bring your foot back in a slow kick motion to where your heel hits your hand. Alternate kicking both of your legs.

Frankenstein walk
Start off by standing up right. Keeping your leg straight, kick your leg forward until your toe hits your hand. A little bend in the knee is okay-just try to go as high as you can. Alternate both legs.


Post-run Stretches

Calves

Traditional calf stretch/wall calf stretch
Stand near a wall, a chair, or anything you can use for support. Put one foot in front of the other, facing your support object. Make sure to keep a little distance between your feet. While keeping your back leg straight with your heel on the ground, bend your front knee and lean towards your support object. Hold, then repeat on other side.

Hamstrings

Two leg toe touch
Sit on the floor with both legs extended in front of you. With your back straight, reach towards your toes. Don’t worry if you can’t touch your toes, or keep your legs straight! You can modify by reaching for your knees or calves, and bending your knees slightly.

One leg toe touch
This is a great modification to the two leg toe touch, as well as a good stretch on its own. Start by sitting on the floor with one leg extended in front of you. Your other leg should be bent and your foot against your inner thigh. With your back straight, reach towards your toes. You can modify this stretch the same way you do the two leg toe touch. Repeat on other side.

IT band/outside of hip

Figure four stretch
Start off by lying on your back. Cross your left foot over to your right quad. Bend your right knee, holding the back of your right leg. Gently pull your right leg towards your chest. Repeat on other side.

Piriformis stretch
Sit on the floor with both legs extended in front of you. Cross your right leg over your left, placing your right foot flat on the floor next to your left knee. Place your right hand on the floor behind you. Place your left elbow on your right knee. Lastly, twist your torso to the right. Repeat on other side.

Knee to chest twist
Start off by lying on your back. Keeping your left leg extended, bring your right knee into your chest. Cross your bent right leg over your left leg and hold. For a deeper stretch, extend your right leg. Repeat on other side.


Day After Race Soreness

Foam roller for hip flexor
Your foam roller is your friend, but only on the days after a run. If you use a foam roller the same day you run, you will put your muscles through too much trauma. Try the day after for extra relief.

Start off by putting your foam roller horizontally on the ground in front of you. Lay belly down so the foam roller rests on your hip flexor. Use your hands and your other foot to push your body back and forth to help loosen up the muscle. Find a tight, trigger point? Hold on that spot- this will add extra pressure to help the muscle loosen. Repeat on other side.

After the foam roller
One more static stretch. Example: forward lunge

Stand upright with feet shoulder-width apart. Take a step forward with your right leg. Shift your weight so your heel hits the floor first. Lower your body until your right thigh is parallel to the floor. Make sure your knee doesn’t go past your toe. Press into your heel to lift back into the starting position. Repeat on other side.

Looking for more tips on foam rolling? Check out our guide.

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