© Great Strides 2006 Shelly-lynn Florence Glover
Easy does it. .You should feel the tension in the belly of the muscle, not at the attachments.Move smoothly, both going into and coming out of each stretch. A slowly stretched muscle relaxes and lengthens.
Dont try to do more than your body is able to do. Forcing a stretch, by bouncing or swinging, jerks the muscle reflex to fight back and shorten. It may even pull or tear if overstretched.
Stretch to mild tension holding 10 to30 seconds. Relax for 5 to10 seconds (or alternate with the other leg or another exercise) before repeating the stretch. Do up to three times.
Breathe normally. Holding your breath can create tension. Belly breathe while stretching just as you should when running. Take an abdominal breath (stomach extends as you inhale) and let it out slowly. Emphasize the exhalation as you move into stretch.
Many use the same basic routine every day so they feel comfortable with it; know it and stay with it. Others prefer variety.You may wish to add some strengthening exercises to your stretching routine before or after your run for a total fitness workout. The Runner's Handbook has more than 50 stretches for specific problem areas.
Lower Back and Hips
Beginners - Top Figure -Lay on your back with knees bent and feet together.
On the exhale, drop your knees to one side, stacked atop one another. Relax neck and rotate your head to face the same direction as your feet.
Intermediate - Middle Figure -Start lying on your back with knees bent and feet about shoulder-width apart.
On the exhale, drop your knees to one side, straighten the bottom leg. Relax the neck and rotate your head to face the same direction as your feet.Advanced - Bottom Figure -Start lying on your back with knees bent together.
Cross your legs at the knees, on the exhale, drop your knees to the side of the top leg. The weight of the top leg will stretch the hip of the bottom leg. Relax neck and rotate your head to face the same direction as your feet.
Finish - Hold each stretch for count of ten to 30. Breathe evenly. On the inhale come center. On the next exhale drop the legs in the direction of the top leg.
Repeat three to five sets.