The running season has officially started across the country and many moms are lacing up their gym shoes and hitting the streets. Running is great way to burn calories, requires no special equipment and can reduce stress. It can be a time to think about being grateful, the great outdoors or even thinking of nothing at all. But after the run it's important to re-align the body and stretch out those muscles and the connective tissue to avoid join pain later.
Five Must-Do Cross Training Moves for Every Runner
1. Single Leg Stand Ups
Start with a bench or ball that is approximately 24" high or higher than knee height to mid thigh height. Sit down and lift one leg in the air. with arms in front or on waist, take a deep breath and stand up. Balance on one leg for 3-5 seconds and lower leg to standing on both feet. Sit back down and repeat this move, lift, stand, balance, stand for 12-15 repetitions on each side.
- Targets: Muscles that protect the knee ( vastus medialis)
- Progression: As you get stronger, lower the seat of the bench.
2. Clock Touches
Start standing on one leg and envision yourself in the center dial of a clock. Start tapping out to 12, 3, 6 with right foot, lowering and standing at each touch. Think lower touch 12 then stand back up tall. Then lower and touch at 3, then stand back up tall. On left side reach to 12, 9, and 6 on the face of a clock. Perform 12-15 repetitions on each side.
- Targets: Muscles that protect the hip, knee and ankle.
- Progression: As you get stronger, try using a BOSU or squishy mat for your base.
3. Toe Pulls
Start near a wall lying down with hips up to the wall and back of thighs resting up on the wall. Legs should be extended. If you can't be perpendicular from the hips, then slightly move away from the wall and rest just the heels. Next pull toes towards the shins for 10-15 repetitions. Change foot position to heels touching and toes wide then toes touching and heels wide to complete three sets of heel pulls in three positions.
- Targets: Opening the calf muscles (tibialis anterior)
- Progression: As you get stronger, bring hips closer to the wall and straighten the legs.
4. Hamstring Triples
Start lying down with feet up on a ball ( stability or soccer balls can both work ) With legs extended, lift hips off the floor, drawing in the belly toward the spine, and tucking the tailbone under. Next roll the ball in towards the hips and pause. Next lift the hips with bent knees and feet on the ball. Slowly roll the ball back to starting position. Repeat this lift, roll in, lift higher, roll out movement for 5-20 repetitions.
- Targets: Back side of the thighs ( hamstrings and glutes)
- Progression: As you get stronger, make the moves in slower counts. Four counts for each move: lift, roll, lift, roll out.
5. IT Band Cross Overs
Probably one the most common injuries to sideline runners is issues with the IT band. This connective tissue starts at the lower back mid point and wraps around down the outside of the thigh to just below the knee. It can cause hip pain, knee pain or even low back pain if it becomes too tight. Start standing with one foot behind the other. Lift the same side elbow up towards the ceiling to stretch the outer side of the body from knee, hip, rib cage and shoulder. Hold for 10-30 seconds and repeat. Then perform on the other side.
- Targets: Connective tissue Iliotibia band
- Progression: As you gain your balance, reach down towards the foot with the opposite hand.
These five moves should be down 2-3 times each week. It should take less than ten minutes and have a significant release on the body. What other stretches do you regularly perform after your runs? Let me know at Andrea Metcalf.