People often think that training harder is the only way to get better. While their work ethic is commendable, their laser focus could make them miss key ingredients to athletic success. Sometimes, it is the little things that you do that can make the biggest difference. These include getting adequate sleep, proper diet, periodic message, and regular stretching. The last one is certainly something that is missing in a lot of routines because it is often dismissed as unimportant. This could not be further from the truth. Everyone can benefit from a bit of flexibility, though the degree tends to vary with each discipline.
Before a Workout
For example, runners don’t necessarily have to be highly flexible to be fast. What they do need is a good hip extension and just free-flowing movement throughout their body. There should be no tightness that could hinder their stride. Muscles can get tight if overworked. Massage can help to release them and stretching can improve to lengthen the fibers. Before a workout session or a race, athletes should do a bit of light stretching to loosen up their muscles and make sure that they are ready to tackle the demanding task ahead. Dynamic stretches are recommended at this point.
After a Workout
The core temperature will be way up after a session on the track, road, or trails. The muscles will be warm and limber. This is the perfect time to stretch them a lot more than was done before the workout. They will be more responsive and it will be less dangerous to do so. You can perform static stretching while still taking some precautions like not overstretching, as this could cause muscle strain. Runners will usually want to work on their hips, calf muscles, quads, hamstrings, piriformis, and hips. Go through all of these at a leisurely pace. Do not hurry anything and be gentle as you go.
Dealing with Problem Areas
There may be times when you have neglected to stretch enough and you will feel tightness in your muscles. These can hinder your mobility or even cause you pain. Hip flexor trouble is fairly common. This can get overworked is a runner tackle a lot of hills and stairs. Crosstraining with bikes, stationary or otherwise, can also aggravate the situation. Those who lead a sedentary lifestyle outside of their training sessions are more prone than average. Sitting in the office all day in front of a computer tends to train the hip flexors to stay in a contracted state. They will eventually shorten in length.
This can be prevented by getting up from your seat from time to time to stretch them out. Just take walking breaks to move your entire body. If you have ample space to yourself, then you can also perform specific stretches for this issue. There are a number of unlock hip flexors trick that you can try if yours are particularly stubborn. A popular one will have you doing a lunge with one leg in front at a 90-degree angle to the floor and the other leg supporting you on one knee. Raise your arms up and lean forward to feel the stretch in front. You can also twist slightly to the side to target your lateral hip muscles.
Make this a daily habit to counter the effects of sitting. Some people take it a bit further by building themselves a walking desk that they can work from. This usually means buying a cheap treadmill and placing a sizeable board on top that can accommodate a laptop and other office essentials. This board needs to be secured to the arms to prevent it from toppling over. The speed of the treadmill should be kept low to allow you to walk at a leisurely pace. It can take a bit of getting used to but it can really improve productivity while improving your mobility.
Your muscles don’t just have to be strong to produce excellent performances. They also have to be loose and flexible. If you have to feel some tightness, then you may not be able to run as well as you are capable of giving your current fitness. Try to have the spots massaged and stretched to remedy the situation.