Hi friends, how is your month going so far? We have been busy lately training for our local triathlon and the Big Horn 18-mile race so my exercise has almost doubled in the last month. Things have been going great so far, though, with few injuries since I have been more conscientious of my exercise planning and building mileage gradually in my running. My body has been responding well to training this time around and I think a lot of that has to do with all the good stretching I have been doing. I’ve been wearing some new yoga knickers from prAna lately that I’m loving, and I’m sharing a prAna discount code too!
Coming up in May, I’m going to be getting my YogaFit certification (yay!), and until then I’m teaching PiYo 4 times a week. This has made a big difference in my workout recovery, muscle soreness, and injury prevention. I have always been big on stretching, but setting aside almost an hour 4 times a week for deeper stretching has made a difference in my workout recovery.
Foam rolling is great for deep tissue massage for muscles and fascia, but stretching is also necessary to lengthen your muscles and connective tissue to keep it flexible and functioning like it should. I am a firm believer that stretching and foam rolling/self-myofascial release needs to go hand-in-hand for the best results and injury prevention for people involved in different sports.
Here are 4 of my current favorite stretches that target the muscles and fascia that get pretty tight with running. These poses aren’t just for runners: they are great for anyone who uses their legs and hips a lot, such as bike riders and swimmers, and just about anyone else. I’m not super flexible, but I’m working on improving my flexibility within my current range of (which is limited thanks to my hips). It’s taking time, but that’s why it’s called a practice, right? Practice makes better 🙂
For all of these stretches, make sure that you are warmed up first. You can warm-up by doing some sun salutations first or do these after your workout so your muscles are sufficiently warm. Deep static stretching is best with warm muscles, so make sure that you get your body warmed up even for just 5 or 10 minutes first.
Pigeon with a quad stretch: this is one of my favorites! It stretches your hip and glutes in the forward leg, and the hip flexor and quad in the rear leg. I’m working on opening my chest more so eventually I can do a King Pigeon pose, but each time I do this stretch it gets better!
From plank position, bring one knee forward and the other leg back, keeping your hips and shoulders square to the front and your hips square to the floor. You can do pigeon without the added quad stretch at first to stretch your hips, leaning forward a bit to deepen that hip stretch. Lift your torso, keeping your chest high and your spine long with shoulders away from your ears, reach back to your foot and bring that foot toward your glutes as far as you are comfortable. Keep your chest elevated and emphasize your inhales in your breath to expand your chest.
You can modify this stretch with a strap if you can’t reach your foot, or you can work on basic pigeon without the knee flexion and build up to that over time.
Seated Half Lotus: this is a great way to stretch out tight IT bands and can be difficult to do if you have runner’s knee and very tight IT bands. This is also a way to work up to doing the full Lotus pose by building flexibility in the sides of your knee, hip, and ankle.
Make sure that you move within a range that is comfortable, you should to feel a good stretch but no pain. If you have serious knee problems, you might want to skip this pose or try this laying down to see how your knee responds before doing this stretch seated.
Seated Half Lotus with a forward bend: this adds a bit more intensity to the Seated Half Lotus stretch. Make sure that you are feeling a good stretch and no pain! Keeping your hips and shoulders square to the front, bring one foot on top of your opposite thigh. Lean forward while hingeing through your hips, reaching down your leg as far as you are comfortable. You can modify this with a strap around your foot if you can’t reach your foot.
Don’t push it too much: start where you are at and then add reach a bit farther each time you do this stretch. On forward bends, make sure you are taking good breaths, emphasizing the exhale, moving a bit deeper with each exhale. It’s also best to do this stretch (and any of these poses) with warm muscles.
I have noticed a huge improvement in my runner’s knee/IT band issues when I added this half lotus stretch with a forward bend several times a week to my routine in addition to my regular foam rolling. This stretch has helped my runner’s knee so much, the pain has all but disappeared even though I have been logging more miles biking and running, both of which usually aggravate IT band issues for me. And I say it’s about time – I’ve been dealing with runner’s knee for over 2 years!
Pyramid: this pose provides an excellent hamstring and outer hip stretch that can be pretty intense if you have tight hamstrings. With One foot facing forward and the other at about 45 degrees, with both heels in line, keep your shoulders and hips square to the front of the mat. Hinge through your hips keeping your back flat and reach down as far as you are comfortable down your forward leg trying not to round your back. You can modify with blocks on each side of your feet, or you can modify by reaching to your knee or shin.
prAna Contour Knickers #prAnaSpringStyle
With all this wonderful stretching and yoga going on, I’m always looking for great pants and capris to wear for yoga that also work great for all my activities. Right now I’m currently loving my new Contour Knickers in Charcoal Heather color from the new prAna spring collection! I have been wearing these for just about everything, and they fit perfectly.
I usually order my leggings and capris a size too large since I am never sure how they will fit me, but I ordered my correct size in these capris and they fit perfectly! They are nice and snug fitting with a higher waist and wide waistband so I don’t have to worry about my pants falling down with I do yoga or bend over when lifting weights.
The prAna Contour Knickers have:
- Classic Rise (not low rise)
- bluesign® Product
- Chakara© performance knit fabric: moisture management, compression, stretch, and shape retention, yet comfortable and soft
- Hidden key pocket
- Wide waistband with elastic inside
- Gusseted for comfort
Since 2012, prAna has partnered with bluesign® systems to ensure that their fabrics are healthy for the environment and for humans, so you don’t have to worry about the dyes or other components of your prAna clothing!
These have creative seam details down the leg and across the waistband. All the seams are flat so they are comfortable
The length of these hit just below the knee and high on my calf. The fabric is quite sturdy and isn’t too thin, which is perfect for me!
The prAna Contour Knickers feature a hidden mesh key pocket
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