Worried about injuries?
All you have to do is hip stretch!
Pre- and post-run stretches are crucial for runners. That said, many of us are prone to ignore them, bringing about an uncomfortable feeling in the knees or soles. The key to avoid such troubles is stretching the hips properly. This time, a fashion model, Ms. Yuxiao Li, who has been into running for three years, learns about the best stretches for runners from the Shiseido Running Club coach, Mr. Ryo Iketani.
Shiseido Running Club running coach, Mr. Ryo Iketani：Born in Tottori in 1990. Graduated from National Institute of Fitness and Sports in Kanoya. Participated in the Japan Championship in Athletics. Joined Shiseido in 2016 as a running coach of Shiseido Running Club.
What’s wrong with self-taught stretches?
Check Ms. Li’s stretching routine!
To start with, Mr. Iketani checks on the stretches that Ms. Li regularly does and her physical condition.
Iketani “Do you normally stretch before and after running?”
Li “I do a bit of lunge stretches before running, but I hardly do it properly in many cases because I just can’t wait to hit the pavement. In fact, when I ran a full marathon last year, I had an awful pain in my knees the next day because I hadn’t stretched properly. It felt like my knees were falling apart!”
Iketani “Knee pain often results from tight hips. If you start running with your hip joints stiff, your knees get sore as the hamstrings are pulled upwards and put pressure on the knees. Furthermore, because you cannot lift your legs properly, your feet stay on the ground longer while running and that may cause sore soles. But give your hips a good stretch before and after a run, and such pains can be easily prevented.”
Must-dos before and after running, as well as every evening.
Mr. Iketani’s recommendations!
Relaxing your hips and warming up in rhythm!
Here are the stretches to loosen up your hips and warm up in rhythm before running. “Before you go for a run, limber up in a bouncing motion with good tempo. That also helps you to create a good rhythm for running.” (Mr. Iketani)
【Relaxing the hips】
Place your right hand on the wall for support. Put your left arm forward at the chest level, keeping it parallel to the floor, and swing your right leg up to the left arm. Repeat 10 times in good rhythm, then change the sides and follow the sequence. Swing hard to raise your leg swiftly. Here, dynamic stretching is the key. To balance your upper body, keep your hipbone straight and even on each side and swing your leg upward from the hip joint.
【Stretching the shoulders and arms】
Rotate your shoulder blades and arms forward and backward 10 times in each direction. Simply loosening the shoulder blades can warm up the muscles and your body effectively.
Ms. Li actually felt the effect, saying: “I could feel the muscles warming up all over my body!”
Cool down by stretching the sore parts
The next is post-run stretch. This is to cool down by stretching the thighs and calves which are more likely to be tired and sore after running.
【Relaxing the hips, glutes and thighs】
Sit on the floor, stretching one of your legs out front and bending the knee to the outside. Pull the other leg backward and lean forward. Keep this position for 15-20 seconds and feel the weight of your body stretch the muscles on your thighs, calves, or glutes. Look for the most comfortable position adjusting little by little.
“You can actually spot the parts that are tired or sore by changing the positions of your legs or by leaning forward at different angles!” says Ms. Li.
【Stretching the soles】
I would recommend using a golf ball or an arch-shaped bamboo stump. If you cannot find any of these, you can also use a small step on the pavement, etc., to relax your arches. This works really well!
No matter if you did or didn’t run!
Evening stretches to get in shape for running
Last but not least, Mr. Iketani introduces evening stretches to maintain your body balance that are worth trying no matter if you went for a run or not.
“The best timing to do an evening stretch is after a bath when your blood circulation is boosted and your body is more flexible. The muscles are most likely to get stiff when you stop active movement and shift back to everyday activities in which you don’t use particular outer muscles. So, do some stretches to cool down your muscles after running and also take some time for physical care after having a bath at the end of the day. That helps you to get in good trim more effectively. Memorize some five poses and make them your stretching routine,” says Mr. Iketani. The poses such as follows are well recommended:
Lie on your back on the floor. Bend your left knee and place your right ankle onto your left knee to make a figure-four shape. Put your right arm through the legs and hold your hands over the left knee. Then pull the left knee to your chest, gently stretching your thighs, glutes and hamstrings. Stretch for 15 seconds, then change the legs.
【Relaxing the glutes】
Lie down on the floor, lift your stretched leg up to the ceiling and put it down to the opposite side, crossing the legs. Extend your arms to both sides, holding your back flat against the floor surface. Relax and retain this pose while breathing steadily to nicely stretch your back and gluteus muscles.
【Stretching the back of the body】
Lie down on the floor and raise both legs up to the ceiling, then roll over to reach the floor above your head. Even if you are not very flexible, your legs are heavy enough to pull and stretch your back muscles and hamstrings.
“If I put my favorite songs on, I will forget the time and the stretch will be over in a flash. I will give it a try today!” Ms. Li says. Once your body is able to alleviate fatigue, you can enjoy running and find it more fun! Why don’t you have a go?
Fashion model. Born in China in 1987 and grew up in Japan. With three years of running experience, currently enjoys competing with friends through a running app and runs about 100 km a month. Participated in Hawaii Honolulu Marathon in 2015. Sets a future target of taking part in a triathlon race. Also works as an interpreter and in the PR field.
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