Friday, July 17, 2009

Yucky Feeling and Stretching

I am happy to report that I had a great run today! I did 2.5 miles at a 9:50 minute/mile pace and it felt really good! I also did a few front and side planks before my run to work on my core strength. A strong core = a strong runner.
As usual, I followed up with some stretches. Stretching is so important in preventing running injuries, and I almost always (I can't be perfect all the time!) follow up a run with a handful of great stretches.
I wanted to share a stretch with you today that has really helped me out. A lot of runner's will stretch out their calves using what is referred to as the "runner's stretch":

(This is some pretty great photography work, by the way! haha)

By keeping the back leg straight (it doesn't look very straight in the picture, but it is!), you get a nice stretch through the gastrocnemius muscle that helps make up the calf. This is a super important stretch to help prevent shin splints.

However, the calf is also made up of another muscle that lies underneath the gastroc, the soleus.

While the gastroc muscle crosses two joints (the ankle and the knee), the soleus only crosses the ankle joint. When you do a "runner's stretch", you keep the knee straight, getting a great stretch in the gastroc, but not really stretching the soleus effectively.

Last summer, I moved from the suburbs into the city of Chicago (Lincoln Park, to be specific). I starting running outside along the streets of Chicago and near the lakeshore. My legs weren't used to pounding pavement, as I was mainly a treadmill runner before, and I started to get really sore calves and shins. I did a runner's stretch after every run, but I didn't feel like I was getting to the source of the discomfort. Finally, the physical therapy student light bulb went off in my head and I thought, "Maybe it's my soleus!!" The soleus stretch is a modification of the runner's stretch:
Step the back foot in a little, and bend the knee. I feel like I'm almost in a bit of a squat.

When I tried this stretch last summer, I felt the tension in the muscle right away. I added this stretch after every run, and the previous soreness and tight feeling in my calves and shins went away!

If you are feeling tight in your calves, and a regular runner's stretch isn't really doing the trick, try this one out! You might be surprised how tight your soleus can be!

I hope you enjoyed the little educational moment. And my terrible pictures. It's hard to set up a camera to take my picture when I'm home alone! If you look hard, you might catch a Willow-sighting. ;)

After my run, I mixed up a Green Monster, which I took a picture of and then accidentally deleted after I finished drinking it! I went back to my favorite mix of spinach, banana, flax, vanilla soymilk, and peanut butter. So delicious! I also reheated the last of the leftover black beans and rice bowl, but I didn't take a picture of that, since it's the 3rd time in 3 days that I've eaten it!

I am feeling quite icky right now.
My tummy does not like to cooperate with me at this time of the month, so I am curling up on the couch attempting to study with a heated bird seed pillow. Sometimes being a girl is just no fun!

Enjoy the rest of your Friday afternoon!!

1 comment:

  1. Love the stretches! I really think a stomach bug is going around. I had it Monday, and it wasn't too fun..

    On a side note, I love your red hoodie!!