So you just got done with your run and you do what you should do-you stretch. But the types of stretches you do matter. More often than not we bend over and touch our toes, and stretch our calves on our front steps before walking through the front door and heading straight to the kitchen for that post-run snack. Why? Because it’s easy.
Your hip flexors play an integral part in allowing you to produce power from your gluteal muscles. Tight hip flexors = poor glute activation = little power. If you try to produce more power (aka run faster) your body will try to pull it from other parts of your body. Your low back will begin increasing its curvature to gain extension, you might push off more with your calves, or your foot may strike the ground way far out in front of your body. Any and all of these possibilities can cause injuries such as low back pain, achilles tendonitis, plantar fasciitis, shin splints and hamstring strains. Not to mention your performance could really suffer.
Making sure to stretch the front of your body as well as the back of it can really improve your running economy and help to decrease injury risk. Here is just one easy stretch to add to your repertoire:
Modified Thomas Stretch
- Begin lying on your back on the edge of a table or bed
- Loop a towel, belt, or dog leash around your ankle closest to the edge of the bed
- Bend opposite knee to protect your back
- Maintaining a flat back, let your thigh drop towards the floor and pull the strap using your shoulder as an anchor
- Hold 3 x 30 seconds
*If you feel pain in your back, tighten your abdominals, make sure your back is flat against the table or bed, and ease up on the tension you are putting on the rope.
Show those hip flexors some love and see the difference it will make! Like anything, you have to be consistent and patient, so stretch daily and give it a few weeks to really see improvements. Happy running!