The importance of stretching!
I have come to realize that most athletes have their very own specific stretch routine. Myself included. As always you have to decide what works best for you and your body as we are all different.
For some stretching is a chore, especially when you plan that 30 to 60 minute training session and then want to get on with your day. I know how you feel. I also know how much better I feel when I do stretch. My body craves the stretch almost as much as I crave a massage as often as I can get one. I promise as tedious and as daunting a task as it may be try to find a few key stretches that work for you and hold each one for 10-20 breathes after a workout.
Below I share my stretch routine which primarily focuses on the lower body. What can I say my legs are always tight. I work them to death and they appreciate the TLC.
Stretches: inner thighs, groins and knees
Modification: For a more restorative variation, move your feet further away from your midline, creating more space between your upper and lower legs. To release pressure on the knees and hip joints, place blocks under the knees.
Turn your torso toward the foot then reach your head toward the foot and your belly towards your leg
Stretches: the low back, hips, and pelvis, along the back of both legs, the side abdominals and intercostals, and open the shoulders.
Modification: Keep your opposite leg bent with the bottom of foot along inner thigh, sit on the edge of a foam block to tilt your pelvis forward.
Modification: lower hips and increase the space between the floor and the knee.
Start in a down dog the pedal feet holding each foot for a few breaths, then switch.
Stretches: hamstrings, calves, arches, and hands, releases tension from your spine.
Modification: Place hands on blocks or on the seat of a chair to release and open your shoulders.
I like to walk the feet in slowly stretching the calf in different spots along the way, until I reach a full forward bend.
Stretches: hips, hamstrings, and calves
Modification: Open your feet hip width apart and keep your feet parallel, leave a slight bend in the knee, hold opposite elbows and just hang.
Stretches: your hip flexor muscles (psoas, rectus femoris) and your groin muscles, and gluteus medius & minimus. May relieve sciatic nerve tension and ease low back pain.
Modifications: Place a foam block under the bent leg thigh to add support will add support. If you are feeling any tension or pain around the front knee, back off, place the foot closer to the opposite groin, or place a block, under the thigh. Do not continue in pain.