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Stretching Essentials – Manipal Runners Club

Stretching before and after a marathon is of utmost importance. Running with muscles that are cold and not properly stretched can result in injury which may keep you off the track. Stretching before the race increases your muscles’ efficiency and movement. It helps improve your performance by increasing your overall speed, stamina, and form and helps your muscles move more effectively and powerfully.

Even after the marathon, your run isn’t complete until you stretch thoroughly as a part of your cool down period. This will loosen your tight and fatigued muscles and prevent them from injury. It also decreases the chances of fatigue and soreness in the following day(s). Following are a few stretches you can do before and after the marathon.

BEFORE THE MARATHON:

Stretching before the marathon prepares your muscles for the strenuous journey they are about to embark, and it also might help you soothe those pre-race nerves! Following are a few stretches to follow:

  1. Walking Lunges:

This stretch opens the quads and hip flexors, and simulates the forward motion of running, which makes them particularly useful as a warm-up stretch.

Stand with your feet together and take a long step forward with your right foot. Bend the front knee to 90 degrees and the back knee until it almost touches the floor. Stay here for a few seconds and work to straighten the back leg so you feel a stretch through the front of your left thigh. Then, rise up and take a big step forward with your left knee to get the stretch on your left side. Continue this way for about 10 lunges.

 

 

  1. Hip Flexor and Glute Activating Leg Swings:
    Hold onto a sturdy object, stand on one leg and swing the other leg forward and back. Do 20. Then swing the other leg 20 times. Each swing should build until your leg is close to its full range of motion.

 

  1. Hip Abductor and Adductor Leg Swings:
    Hold onto a sturdy object, stand on one leg and swing the other leg across the front of your other leg and out to the side. Do 20. Then swing the next leg side to side 20 times. Each swing should build until your leg is close to its full range of motion.

 

  1. Hamstring Stretch:

Take a short stride forward keeping the heel firmly on the ground. Keep the front leg straight and bend the back knee sinking your bottom towards the ground as though you’re about to sit in a chair. At the same time as keeping the front leg straight, sweep down with your hands towards the ground creating a dynamic stretch on the hamstring group.

 

  1. Kneeling Hip Flexor and Hamstring:
    From a kneeling position, plant the right foot on the ground in front of you, so the leg is bent 90 degrees, with the knee and ankle aligned. Keeping your back straight, press forward into your right hip while keeping your left knee pressed into the ground, stretching your left hip and right hamstring. To increase the stretch to the left hip flexors, squeeze and contract the glute muscles of your left hip. Hold for 30 seconds to two minutes.

 

  1. Standing Quad:
    Stand with legs together. Bend your left leg, bringing your heel toward your butt, and grasp your left foot with your left hand. Press your shoelaces into your hand, so that your leg does the stretching instead of pulling up with your hand. Hold for 30 seconds to two minutes.

 

  1. Standing Calf:
    Stand facing a wall with your hands on the wall at about chest level. Placing the ball of your right foot up against the wall, heel touching the floor, gently lean into the wall until you feel a stretch in your calf while keeping your leg straight. Hold for 30 seconds to two minutes.

 

 

 

AFTER THE MARATHON:

After the exhausting race, you may be tempted to sit or lie down, but getting off your feet too soon may cause your muscles to tighten up. Walk around for at least 10 minutes, collect your medal and take in your success! Hydrate and do the following stretches to increase elasticity and reduce stiffness.

 

  1. Hamstring Stretch:

Take a short stride forward keeping the heel firmly on the ground. Keep the front leg straight and bend the back knee sinking your bottom towards the ground as though you’re about to sit in a chair. At the same time as keeping the front leg straight, sweep down with your hands towards the ground creating a dynamic stretch on the hamstring group.

 

  1. Standing Quad:

Stand with legs together. Bend your left leg, bringing your heel toward your butt, and grasp your left foot with your left hand. Press your shoelaces into your hand, so that your leg does the stretching instead of pulling up with your hand. Hold for 30 seconds to two minutes.

 

  1. Glute and Piriformis Stretch:
    Cross your right ankle just above your left knee and lower down into a squatting position. Hold onto a friend or a tree for balance if necessary. If comfortable, gently push down on your right knee. Repeat on opposite leg.Take an ice bath to help soothe your sore muscles.

Don’t take the marathon warm-up and cool-down lightly, they are essential for a peak performance and speedy recovery. Happy and safe running!

This article was written by Sriya Peri

 

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