“No distance is too far” is a new mantra for running enthusiasts. Passionate runners are travelling to distant places, be it Regional, National or even International to fulfil their passion.
During Satara Hill Half Marathon 2015, I realized that most of the participants had travelled 3-7 hours (mostly by car or bus), on an average, to reach the venue. And of course, they had to use the same means to return back, almost immediately after the run. The point I am trying to make here is: they probably could not manage time for some immediate stretches after a long run. This was the case with me too.
What worked in my favor….
Stretches, stretches, stretches and only STATIC stretches
Towards the end of the race, I had started feeling tension in each and every joint and muscle in my legs. The areas which kept drawing my attention and craved for deep stretches were my sore Calves, Ankles, Quadriceps, Hamstrings and to some extent my back. Not to forget, the IT band. I have written about IT band in the past but felt it for the first time after this run. My quivering legs, post the run, made me decide to go ahead with the static stretches while being in the car for hours. To my surprise, by the end of the travel, most of the stress had been released and my muscles had started reverting back to normalcy.
I was apprehensive of severe stiffness; expected 24 hours post the run, as warmed by many. Fortunately, by this specified time, all my stiffness had disappeared. I was convinced again that it was my long, deep static stretches that had brought this result.
- Logically, it was pretty natural for these areas to make its presence felt, as these are also the areas which are directly involved in running and hence, need immediate attention to release the accumulated tension.
- The muscle fibers under constant contractions start shortening due to repetitive movement which becomes the source of stiffness. Deep static stretches seemed to counteract that stiffness.
As runners keep travelling to different places for their runs (more expected in the future), they can choose to do these stretches during travel to maintain the optimal range of motion and flexibility. In fact, it would not be a bad idea to use these stretches while travelling to the venue as well, as participants are not going to run immediately once they reach.
- The muscles will be warmed up post running and thus will respond optimally to the stretches. So immediate post run stretches are crucial.
- The first focus should be on stretching the muscles which are directly involved in running i.e. the calf muscles, the quadriceps, hamstrings and IT band.
- In addition, we also need to stretch several other muscles: The Spine – upper back, lower back & twisting the spine to release all the tension of the compression of the spine due to running.
- While stretching, make sure that the stretch is targeted at the belly of the muscles and not at the joints directly, as it may result in injury.
- Make sure you do prolonged slow stretching upto the point you can feel the deep stretch.
Stretching may not guarantee an injury-free run but it will definitely decrease the chances of getting injured and ensure a ‘quick return on the road’ in no time. Check other post run stretches on my website www.shammisyogalaya.com