Here’s an update to my previous post about stretching.
The first is a calf stretch which targets the soleus muscle. In my original post, I talked about the traditional “runner’s stretch” for the calf, which involves leaning against a wall with the leg extended behind you. As blog reader Taryn R. pointed out, though, that stretches only the gastrocnemius, the big muscle that’s the most visible part of the calf. What runners – especially long-distance runners – need to work on, emphasized Taryn, is a stretch that works on the soleus.
To stretch the soleus, position yourself with your back straight and your palms against a wall. Start in a “seated” position with your legs bent and your buttocks dropped. Then gently lean into the wall until you feel the stretch in your lower calf.
The second stretch I’ve added to my daily routine is a variant of the standard glute stretch. It was suggested by Deb A., my wife’s fitness instructor, and uses a stability ball to deepen the stretch. It also stretches the hip rotators. Lie on the floor with your heels resting on the ball. Cross your ankle over your thigh and let your knee fall outward. Then roll the ball toward your so that you feel a stretch in your glutes. Try to keep your lower back and pelvis on the floor while you’re holding the position.
Remember, staying flexible helps reduce injuries – and also contributes to improved performance!