Loosen Up July 28 2015

Stretching is critical to maintaining and building strong muscles. Even simple stretches can increase range of motion, improve coordination and posture, and research shows that flexible, warmed-up muscles have a faster recovery than the ‘cold’ kind.  So, loosen up!  Here are a few stretches that can be done after a workout.

Quads: Your quads are the muscles that cover most of the front and sides of your thighs.  To stretch them:  Stand upright and pull your leg behind you with  the corresponding hand, keeping your knee pointing downward. I find it best to keep myself steady by holding on to a chair, fence, bench or wall for balance.

Calves: Your calf muscles are on the back of your lower legs – you know the ones that may be achy after long mileage.  To stretch these critical muscles:

* Stand close – slightly less than an arm’s distance – from a wall.

* Step your right leg forward and step your left leg back – about a 3 foot distance.

* Bend your right knee slightly – keeping your knee over your toes – and keep your left leg straight, pressing the left heel into the ground.

* Straighten your back and hold the position for 20 seconds.

* Relax, reset and repeat with the other leg.


Standing Stretches: Stand tall, inhale and lift your arms straight up above your head, making yourself into a human arrow. 
* With your arms still extended over your head, bend your back slightly back, forming a backwards “C” – do not force your back to bend farther than your body naturally allows. Exhale and use your core abdominal muscles to straighten back up, realigning your arms above your hips.
* With your arms still extended over your head, clasp your hands together pointing upward. Inhale and extend hands higher and exhale as you bend your upper body to the right. Take your time and breathe before slowly returning to the center position.  Repeat on the left side.


Hamstrings: Your hamstrings stretch from the hip to the knee.  Lengthening your hamstrings can lead to more flexibility and less soreness.  To stretch them:
* Sit down on the floor with both legs out straight in front of you.
* Extend your arms forward, bending gently at the waist as far forward as possible – all the while, keeping your knees straight.
* Hold the position for 10 seconds.
* Relax, reset and repeat.