Stretching is vital to ensure you maintain strong, flexible muscles and joints and remain injury-free as you train. So, before you hop straight in the shower, take a few moments to run through these easy stretches.

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We’ve found that our Vitfor FTW users all have their favourite stretches and here we detail a selection of the best that will aid recovery after each training session. You can run-through each stretch just once but we recommend repeating up to 3 times for better results.

The key to optimal stretching is to ensure it doesn’t cause pain and to seek advice from a practitioner if you’re unsure of your technique.

The ‘Gastroc Stretch’ (for calves)

There are two ways that you can achieve this stretch.  Try both and find the one that suits you best.

Technique:

  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart and with your toes pointing straight forwards (or slightly outwards if this feels more natural).
  • Place your right foot behind, hands lightly supporting against a wall or solid object.
  • Slightly bend your left knee and shift your weight forward onto the left leg moving your hips forward and creating the stretch on the back of the right calf.
  • Hold for 30-40 seconds, switch legs and repeat.

Alternative Technique:

  • Stand with the balls of your feet on the edge of a step or raised surface with both legs totally straight.
  • Place your left leg in front for balance and lower the heel of your right foot off the step feeling the stretch on the back of the right calf.
  • Hold the stretch for 30-40 seconds, switch legs and repeat.

The ‘Soleus Stretch’ (for calves)

This is another stretch which has alternative techniques for you to try.

Technique:

  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart and with your toes pointing straight forwards (or slightly outwards if this feels more natural).
  • Place your right foot behind, hands lightly supporting against a wall or solid object as with the Gastroc Stretch and this time, bend your back knee.
  • Shift your weight forward onto the left leg moving your hips forward.  You will feel the stretch in a slightly different place compared to the previous stretch.
  • Hold the stretch for 30-40 seconds, switch legs and repeat.

Alternative Technique:

  • Take the stance as detailed in the Gastroc Stretch (alternative technique)
  • Bend your right leg feeling the stretch.
  • Hold the stretch for 30-40 seconds, switch legs and repeat.

The ‘Hamstring Stretch’

Technique:

  • Stand with your left foot one step in front of the right or placed on a slightly raised surface between 45 and 90 degrees to the upright.
  • Keep both legs straight and flex upwards the toes of your left foot.
  • Lean forwards from the hip, ensuring you maintain a straight back, feeling the stretch in your left hamstring.
  • Hold the stretch for 30-40 seconds, switch legs and repeat.

The ‘Quadriceps Stretch’

Technique:

  • Stand up straight and tall, lift your left foot up behind you, and take hold of your ankle with your left hand.
  • Pull your heel gently toward your bottom whilst standing tall and with your hips in a neutral or slightly forward position, feeling the stretch in your quadriceps
  • Hold the stretch for 30-40 seconds, switch legs and repeat.

The ‘Hip Flexor’

Technique:

  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart (or slightly wider if you prefer)
  • Take a large step forward with your left leg.
  • Bend your left knee and lower yourself down towards the floor so your left thigh is parallel with the ground and your right knee is touching / almost touching the ground.
  • Engage your core muscles and push your hips forward feeling the stretch in the front of your hips
  • Hold the stretch for 30-40 seconds, switch legs and repeat.

The ‘Piriformis Stretch’

Technique:

  • Lie on your back and stretch your arms straight to the 10 and 2 o’clock positions.
  • Bend your right knee to 90 degrees and then slowly let it drop across your body to the left while keeping your shoulders as flat as possible.
  • To increase the stretch, you can start to straighten your right leg and/or add a small amount of pressure with your left hand.
  • Hold the stretch for 30-40 seconds, switch legs and repeat.

Training smartly also means looking after your body. To make the most of your sessions:

  • Don’t stretch cold muscles but do some light stretching after a warm-up and before any speed work.
  • Ease into your stretches.  Don’t force them or bounce into them.
  • Stretches before speed work should be held for around 10 – 15 seconds; after your training session, hold them for 30 – 40 seconds.
  • Seek advice and research other stretches if you find that certain areas of your body aren’t recovering after your training sessions.

If your training is causing fatigue that you’re not recovering from, contact us for a free training review. We’ll assess your current approach and make recommendations to help improve your performance.

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