Post-run stretching with bands increases flexibility

January 31, 2014

Serious, dedicated runners spend ample time on their home treadmills, pounding the belt and getting a great cardio workout every session. Whether they’re training for a race or just sticking to their fitness regimen because they live a healthy lifestyle, running helps them develop strong leg muscles, endurance and a more powerful cardio health.

Even those who are new to the sport will find great pleasure in hopping on their home gym equipment to do a walking and running interval program as they work their way up to a full run. Finishing a successful workout feels great, boosts confidence and helps you achieve your goals, but the session shouldn’t end once you hop off the treadmill.

Sore muscles and injuries can halt your progress and even set you back if you need to take time off to recover. That’s why stretching is so important, but for those who don’t do it often, it can be uncomfortable or a little painful to loosen up tight muscles.

While it may seem like a nuisance to take extra time after a great run to work on your flexibility, it will really help you out in the long run. Keeping your muscles, especially those in the lower extremities, loose and limber can increase your ability to overcome fitness hurdles and helps you become a better runner. If you feel like basic stretching is uncomfortable or doesn’t help, there’s good news. Using flex bands is a great way to assist your stretches and improve your flexibility.

Why use a band to stretch?
Using a band, whether it’s a flex band or a yoga strap (or even a towel if you’re short on supplies), provides you with a greater range of motion and allows you to get a better stretch than if you were just doing the basics. Using bands also helps you to incorporate both dynamic and static stretching, so you’re getting the most benefit out of your cool down. Here are some excellent bands stretches for the lower body to improve leg flexibility and make you a better runner next time you hit the fitness treadmill:

Lying hamstring stretch: Lay down on the floor and bend your right knee into your chest. Wrap the band around the ball of your right foot, then slowly straighten your leg until you feel a sensation in your hamstring. You can either hold each side of the band in both hands or hold both together in one. Use the band to pull your leg closer to your chest if you feel you need more of a stretch. Hold for about 30 seconds then switch to the left side.

Lying calf/shin stretch: Begin in the hamstring, stretch with the band around your right foot and your leg straight in the air. Loosen the hamstring stretch a little, so there’s less sensation in the back of your leg. Point your toes toward the ceiling until you feel a stretch along the front of your shin and hold for 15 seconds. Then, flex your foot until you feel a calf stretch and hold. Alternate between pointing and flexing three or four times, then switch to the left foot.

Lying inner/outer thigh stretch: Starting in the hamstring stretch position, take both ends of the band into your right hand and slowly open your leg to the outside until you feel a stretch in your inner thigh. Hold for 30 seconds, then bring your leg back to center. Switch the band to your left and and drop your leg across your body until there’s a sensation in your outer thigh and hold for 30 seconds. Repeat on the left side.