A few years ago, I made a new year’s resolution to run a half marathon. I had never run anything before, so it was a big undertaking that I took quite seriously. I followed the Couch to 5K training program, and before I knew it I was crushing 6 miles like it was nothing. I was well on my way to my goal when I started getting severe knee pain.
It was horrible. I did everything I could to try to alleviate the pain, but it only got worse. Even when I stopped running, the pain did not subside. I ended up going to physical therapy where we determined the cause of the pain: tight hips.
It’s funny how everything is so connected, but sure enough as soon as I started doing my hip stretches regularly, the pain was gone and I was back to running.
I never did complete that half marathon, but I haven’t given up yet! Anyway, I wanted to share with you a few stretches that have helped me on my road to becoming a better runner, and I hope that they will help you too!
NOTE: I am not a medical professional. Please consult your doctor first before attempting any new fitness routine. Safety first!
1. Half Pigeon: I love this stretch because it stretches the outer hip of the bend leg as well as the front of your straight leg. Begin by taking one shin parallel to the front of the mat, then extend your other leg behind you. Sit up tall, then slowly fold forward, coming to your forearms if you can. Breathe into the stretch and you’ll start to feel your hips loosen up. Repeat on each side.
2. Standing IT Band Stretch: This one feels so good on your outer leg! So important to stretch your IT band as a runner. Stand with your feet hip width apart and parallel. Bend forward, taking your fingertips to the mat. Bend one knee, then reach the opposite arm to the ceiling. Repeat on each side.
3. Figure Four Stretch: You can do this one seated or standing. If standing, cross one ankle over the opposite thigh, then slowly sit back. Seated, same thing, but then pull your leg in toward you. You can also lay on your back for this one. Repeat on each side.
4. Pyramid pose: Point both your toes straight ahead. Keep them parallel while taking a big step forward. Make sure both heels are still on the mat. Fold forward, and try to keep a flat back, bringing your chest forward. Keep your hips square. Slowly round out your spine, folding over your leg. Maybe even try to touch your nose to your knee. Repeat on each side.
5. Full Pigeon: Stack your shins on top of one another, and slowly fold forward with a flat back. Then, round out your spine and relax into the stretch. Breathe into your hips. Switch sides and repeat.
I hope you find these tips helpful! Be sure to share in the comments what some of your favorites are.