As a running coach, personal trainer, nutrition consultant and corrective exercise specialist keeping athletes injury free is one of my primary goals in my job.The following stretches are key in order to stay injury free while continuing an arduous training regimen.
1: Quad Stretch:
kneeling quad stretch, the rectus femoris is one of the 4 quad muscles and is another major hip flexor. The rectus femoris is in constant use during a run. Proper stretches of these hip flexors are essential to provide proper range of motion and uncompromised running form. Kneel on the ground and put the top of the foot on a bench and engage hips and bring pelvis forward to allow the pelvis to be locked and obtain a quad stretch.
2: TFL Stretch:
(Tensor fascia latae stretch) lie on your back legs bent then cross one leg over the other and pull both knees down to the side of the top leg. The TFL attaches to the connective tissue call the iliotibial band (tract) that attaches to the knee cap. This stretch is essential. When the TFL gets too tight it can inhibit accurate knee tracking because it pulls and tightens the connective tissue (IT band).
3: Hamstring Stretch:
the hamstring is involved with knee flexion (bending) and hip extension-both crucial movements in running. The three muscles make up the hamstring muscle complex: semitendinosus, semimembranosus, and biceps femoris (long and short head). All of the hamstring muscles flex (bend) the knee, however the biceps femoris crosses only one joint, the knee and is not involved in hip extension.
- The “three way” hamstring stretch:
- . Ly on your back using a stretch strap leave one leg on the ground straight and raise one leg straight using the strap looped around the ball of foot. Keeps your hips level on the ground.>/li>
- . Then move the elevated leg across the body but keep both hips down on the ground
- c. The third hamstring stretch is rotating the leg to the outside of the body, again keeping both hips on the ground.
4: Tibialis Anterior:
The tibialis anterior functions to stabilize the ankle as the foot hits the ground during the contact phase of walking or running and acts later in the stride to pull the foot clear off the ground during the swing phase. It is responsible for dorsiflexing. To stretch the tibialis anterior, stand on your right leg with your hands on your hips for balance, and cross your left calf in front of your right shin below the knee. Place the tops of your toes on the floor to help you extend your ankle. Bend your right leg to push your left ankle toward the floor gently.
5. Soleus stretch:
from the calf stretch, continue simply by just bending the knee of the foot that is dangling off the edge of the step and feel the stretch lower on the lower leg. The soleus stretch is important because it allows the ankle to plantar flex when the knee is bent.
It is best to hold each stretch for 30-60s to allow the muscles to relax in the lengthen position.