In my last post had spoken of the 3 basic stretches you could do before starting your treadmill routine. Those were the very basic stretches that take care of the 3 basic muscles (Gastrocs or calves, Quadriceps or front thighs and the Hamstrings or the back/rear thigh) of the legs that would be put to full use in any treadmill workout.
Here are the two other essential exercises of the legs. They increase the legs” preparedness to endurance walking, jogging or running and address the smaller but most exerted muscles such as the Piriformis (muscle connecting lower hip to hamstring) and the Soleus (the muscle connection at the rear side between the calf and the ankle).
Let”s begin with the Piriformis stretch. The Piriformis muscle helps us raise our heals when the leg is straight. It also enables lateral rotation of the hips, which are required to change direction (like those in the games of football, tennis, badminton, rugby, soccer etc). Hough runners usually run straight ahead, it is important that the Piriformis muscle is relaxed and loose. This will increase the runner/jogger”s flexibility.
1. Lie on your back on an even floor
2. Cross your legs – one over the other – the way you would when you sit on a chair.
3. Grasp the rear/back thigh or hamstrings with both hands.
4. Pull your knee gently towards yourself.
5. Feel the stretch in your buttocks and hips.
6. Hold it for 10 seconds. Repeat thrice.
7. Do the same off the other leg
Now for the Soleus Stretch. The Soleus muscle is a rear connector between the Gastroc and your ankles. It is not a large muscle but the one that takes a lot of pounding in the running action. The Soleus comes into play when we plant the foot on the ground and enables us to push forward to the next step. It is also the muscle the runners most neglect to take care of. Here”s what you should do to give it its due:
1. Stand facing a wall. Place your palms against it.
2. Step back one of your right feet. Keep this leg unbent and straight.
3. Let the left foot be half way between the wall and the right rear leg.
4. Slowly lean into the wall and tuck in your buttocks.
5. Now bend both the knees and drop your buttocks as if you are in a sitting position.
6. Feel the stretch in your Soleus.
7. Keep both heels on the ground as you stretch.
8. Your back must be straight and at right angles to the wall.
9. Steady and hold for 10 seconds. Repeat and do off the other foot.
If you think you may not remember, exactly how to perform the Soleus stretch at the gym, make sure you have the instructor present there demonstrate it for you. It is simpler than it sounds and provides a beautiful stretch in the deep Soleus muscles at the back.
I will be back next week with some injury prevention ideas for the runner. Until then…