Stretch It Out.

Hello!

So last week I gave you a sneak preview into my active weekend of participating in FitBit Local’s kickoff event in the South End on Saturday morning and then a free run clinic on Sunday morning. Needless to say, between trying my very first high intensity bootcamp class and actively working on new strength training exercises, I was hobbling around my apartment with that good, sore feeling by Sunday evening.

You know that feeling I’m talking about, right? The one that makes you feel positive that you got a solid workout in and maybe even worked some new muscles because getting up from a seated position is a lot of work and trying to reach for something in a cabinet becomes a chore…sometimes even just laying there hurts! But, as sore as you are, you can’t help but smile knowing that you allowed your body to work hard and you pushed it to the limit for that day. Rest was much deserved!

In between the struggle of my sore moments and the excitement of telling my running friends about these two free fitness events, I realized that the perfect thing to share with you today would be active warm-up and recovery suggestions-something I learned in the run clinic and definitely utilized this weekend…it was my saving grace and can be yours, too as you think about incorporating wellness activities, like proper stretching, into your daily routine.

But first, let me quickly recap what these two events were like…

Fitbit Local’s free event was held in the SOWA Power Station, an architecturally-stunning building with high cathedral ceilings in the South End-and, over the course of two hours, featured a bodyweight bootcamp class led by a prominent Boston fitness instructor, Chad Flahive, followed by a yoga flow by Cara Gilman. I’ll be honest, I originally only wanted to attend this event for the sake of the yoga portion-not only was it a class taught by my absolute favorite yoga instructor, but it was also a free yoga class (whereas many single class offerings in Boston range from $15-$25 per class)…the added bonus was that I got to try out a bootcamp class, too which I have never done before.

That being said, I was very curious about what a bootcamp class would be like so I went in with an open mind. It is what it sounded like: “bootcamp:” a high intensity cardio class, that gets your heart rate up, something to make you sweat quickly and continuously, and something (or someone) to push you to keep moving. Over the course of the class, I did a mixture of twisting jumping jacks, regular squats, pulsing squats, jump squats (after typing out all of those squat, I can now understand the soreness in my glutes…), burpees, mountain climbers crunches, and so forth. The end result? I think I would try a bootcamp class again just to give it another fair shot, but it also solidified that, for me, a large class, with loud music meant to pump you up, and an instructor yelling (in an inspiring way!) things like, “Keep moving!” “Almost there!” “Last set!” “Okay, really–this is the last set!” “You got this–this really is the last one!” doesn’t really motivate me…it more so irritates me. But that’s just me. I can absolutely see why other people need or want a class like that to motivate them intensely for 30-45 minutes; it had me looking at my watch to see when this part would be over. Still, I can’t really complain at all since clearly it worked me out well and I was feeling all kinds of new sore throughout my body.

And, yoga with Cara was simply amazing (to be expected)-so not much to report on that end. I was so grateful to have that time to slowly cool down my body and flow through some poses and begin the active stretching process, while calming my forever-on-the-go-mind. It also reminded me of how much I miss yoga incorporated into my week at least once or twice (is such a powerful practice especially when paired with running) so I bit the bullet and signed up for Cara’s 10-week Run + Yoga summer series…although I have to miss the first two classes due to grad school and work travel, I am beyond stoked to have this series to look forward to each week as I train for the B.A.A. 10K.

And so, I woke up pretty sore on Sunday morning, kind of regretting this decision to do back-to-back new fitness events, but I was also too excited to attend this run clinic to let anything cloud my mind.  A friend, fellow November Project-er, and PT/DPT/Cert. DN/Running Specialist, Dani Adler, led her first clinic: Learn The 3 E’s To Run Training: Easy, Effective, and Efficient where we learned how to apply the 3 E’s to our active warm-ups and strength training routines. We topped off the clinic with a gorgeous 3 mile run along the Mystic River, right across the street from her office in Medford, MA.

Here is a picture of our awesome group-a mix of triathletes, ultra-marathoners, marathoners, and just regular runners, like myself-outside of the Boston Physical Therapy & Wellness office before our run (we were even lucky enough to have two members of Team Hoyt join us as they trained for the upcoming Providence Marathon). All in all, I was inspired to be surrounded by such amazing athletes and greatness and got pumped to keep my run pace with them-it felt good to challenge myself like that.

RunClinic.jpg

Okay, and now the moment I’ve been so excited to share with you since I was hobbling around my apartment, wonderfully sore from all of these free fitness events: active warm-up and stretching. During the run clinic, Dani led us through a series of warm-up routines that were easy to follow, proved to be effective during our 3 mile run after as we all felt properly warmed up, and were super efficient: the whole routine took no more than 9-10 minutes, yet covered a broad spectrum of body parts and muscles that are integral to running. She explained the difference between active warm-ups (what I will share with you below) and static stretching (something like bending over and touching your toes or pulling one leg behind you to stretch out your hamstrings before a run)-she immediately turned me into a believer and made me never want to statically stretch before a workout ever again-that should be saved for post-run stretching. Why do I say this? Read below and find out.

How to Apply the 3 E’s to Your Warm-Up:

  1. Inch worms: 5 sets 
    The inch worm is a great way to actively stretch out your hamstrings and calves and fire up your core before a run. To follow me along, I’ve included a snapshot for you to see-the sequence goes: Top Left, Top Right, Bottom Left, Bottom Right, and repeat.
    – Start out with your feet close together and stretch down to to the floor in front of you (top left image).
    – Begin to walk your hands forward, alternating left and right, bending only at the hips and keeping your legs straight until you reach a push up position (top right image).
    – Now keep your hands in place and slowly take short steps forward with your feet, not bending your knees-this is where you will start to feel the amazing stretch in your hamstrings and calves (bottom left image).
    – Continue walking until your feet have reached your hands-or have come as far as your legs allow without bending your knees. You will notice you are back in the starting position-repeat 5 times for an active warm-up (bottom right image).
    InchWorm
  2. Downward Dog into “Walking the Dog:” 5-10 on each side.
    Downward Dog is an energizing yoga pose meant to stretch the shoulders (mine always crack), hamstrings, calves, feet, and hands, while strengthening your arms and legs.
    – To get into the Downward Dog position, you place yourself in an inverted “V” pose, with your palms and feet rooted in the ground below you and your sits bones (think: butt area), lifted up to the sky. Your body weight is evenly distributed,  your shoulders are squared to the ground, your neck is relaxed and your gaze is down/towards your feet.
    – To follow me along, I’ve included a snapshot for you below. Top Left and Top Right are the same pose (Downward Dog), just shown from a front view and side view.
    – Bottom Left and Bottom Right just show the “Walking the Dog” sequence, from the side view. From your Downward Dog position, alternatively lift and lower your lower your heels, still keeping your body weight evenly distributed-don’t let your body fall side to side as you pedal out your feet. Repeat for 5-10 times on each side.
    DownwardDog
  3. Downward Dog into Pigeon Pose: 30 seconds, each side.
    Pigeon pose is my absolute favorite stretch. This pose stretches out your thighs, groin areas, abs, chest, and shoulders and is one of the deepest stretches you can find yourself in, but boy does it feel great if you can bear it!
    – From the Downward Dog position, keep your hips squared towards the ground and bring one leg forward towards your arms to a 90 degree angle (or as close as you can get). That foot, which should stay flexed for a better stretch, will come to rest towards your groin area as your back leg is extended out with the knee and leg squared towards the floor and pressed down.
    – You can either keep your upper body upright, with the ribcage lift and hands perched by your front foot, or slowly lower yourself down over your front knee and walk and stretch your arms out forward as well for a deeper stretch-in this case you can keep your gaze down.
    – I’ve included another snapshot for you to follow me along Top and Bottom images are the same pose, just shown from a front and side view. *Note: I am only showing one side in these images, but this pose calls for both left and right sides to be stretched. After about 30 seconds on one side, shake out your leg and repeat the pose on the opposite side. 
    PigeonPose
  4. Adductor Rock: 15-20 on each side.
    This stretch I was pretty new to, but am so glad I tried it! The adductor rock really stretches out the groin area, while also loosening up any tightness in your inner thigh area (note: one side may feel more tight than the other).
    – Start on all fours and extend one leg to the side.
    – Gently rock back on your bent knee, keeping your back flat, and progressively rock back further and further each time, opening up the groin area.
    – I included a snapshot for you to follow along. The Top Left and Top Right images are what the sequence looks like from a front view, and Bottom Left and Bottom Right images is the same thing, but from a side view. *Note: I am only showing one side in these images, but this pose calls for both left and right sides to be stretched. After about 15-20 rocks on one side, shake out your legs and repeat the stretch on the opposite side. 
    AdductorRock
  5. 5 Minutes of “Fitness Walking” – I don’t have an image for this one, and I know it kind of sounds funny to do before a run (especially when most of us barely have time to fit in a run as it is), but getting your body ready for the motion of running by walking at 3.5 mph or less can really relieve the shock of your body going from 0 – (enter your mph here) in just seconds. Walking before allows your heart rate to pick up and for your breathing to quicken and get fired up for your set pace.

After the warm-up we got into applying the 3 E’s to strength training. If you’re interested in seeing some specific strength training videos that you can incorporate into your own routine, I recommend checking out Dani’s RunFitDoc YouTube channel –it’s a great resource to get yourself started and you can rest assured that the information is coming to you from a true professional! All of these routines are easy to follow, reasonable to scale, and really complement your training runs well. The most important thing to me, as someone who is typically stretched thin with many responsibilities, is efficiency: if you give me something that will be effective for my training and compact enough that I can easily fit in to a 10 minute segment every day (or every other day) then that is what I know will work and what I can reasonably stick with.  Personally, I look forward to doing these routines at least 2 times per week, to begin with, during my upcoming 10K training and reporting back on the positive impact.

Lastly, if you missed her run clinic last weekend and are now kicking yourself for it-fear not! You still have one more upcoming opportunity to learn about The 3 E’s To Run Training: Easy, Effective, and Efficient as a part of the first ever BPTW Strength Symposium on Saturday, May 21 at 10am in Medford, MA (I attached the Eventbrite info for your convenience). This event, as opposed to the run clinic I attended, covers a depth and breadth of topics, such as running, nutrition, core strength, injury/pain presentation, etc., but gives you access to a whole line up of health, wellness, and fitness experts and professionals, like Dani…what an opportunity! This is one local event for all you triathletes, marathoners, and fitness enthusiasts to not miss!

As for me, tonight I am off to the Run + Yoga for Runners event held at the Janji pop-up store on Newbury Street in Boston tonight! This event is run by two fellow November Project-ers: Brittany Flaherty and Jana Ross and coordinated by the MoveWith company. I’m so excited to work out in a new location (can’t believe I still haven’t been to the Janji store yet!) after I run through the streets of my favorite area in Boston: Back Bay! More to come on this experience when I write again on Friday.

In the meantime, and in the spirit of today’s post, I want to encourage you all to to incorporate some form of stretching into your daily routine: this could be 5-10 minutes of active stretching in the morning to wake you up or some form of static stretching to flow through and relieve stress before bed…it could even be your midday break from work after lunch! The benefits of stretching (reduced muscle tension, increased range of the joints, increased blood flow, and higher energy levels, just to name a few…) are too go pass up! Or, if you think I missed out on a different form of active stretching, then please comment below and share one of your favorite stretches–I always love to hear from you!

Wishing you wellness today and always,
-Meg

7 thoughts on “Stretch It Out.

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