Stretching and flexibility are very important for before and after a race. We all know what areas to stretch (Hamstrings, quads, glutes, IT band, hip flexors, calf etc), however I hope to show a few different takes on stretching a few of those areas today. All very easy to do at home, in the gym, at the race, or in the hotel room, with nothing needed except for a maybe a sheet or strap. If you are traveling to the race make sure to save some extra time for foam rolling and stretching once you get to the hotel and try and “work the travel” out of you. Grabbing an extra sheet at the hotel will allow you go through a few partner type stretches just with out having find a partner.
Words and photos by Nick Sarantis, MS, ATC, CSCS, Director of Sports Performance at Baptist Sports Medicine in Louisville, Ky.
Three-way hamstring stretch
There are probably 10,000 different ways and variations to stretch your hamstrings; some dynamic, some static. However one of my favorite hamstring stretches is a three-way hamstring stretch using a band, sheet, towel or stretch strap. I like this stretch because we have three different hamstring muscles so it makes sense to stretch them at three different angles, which will stretch each one more independently. To start wrap the sheet or strap around your foot and pull straight back under control and hold for about 20 seconds. Next bring your leg out to about a 30 degree angle away from your midline and again hold for 20 seconds. The last one you will cross the leg over the mid line making sure not to rotate at the back at all, keep your hips in contact with the ground at all times. The leg that is not being stretched make sure it is straight on the ground and the toe is pointed straight up in the air. Failure to do this will allow “fake” flexibility not truly coming from the hamstrings.
The piriformis is a muscle that when tight can wreak havoc on your pelvic alignment which could lead to back pain. If you have ever a numb feeling shoot down your leg, that too could be stemming from a tight piriformis muscle. Putting yourself in this pretzel like position is a fantastic way to get a stretch across your pirformis/ glute area.
Standing IT Band Stretch
The iliotibial band or IT band is a structure that originates at our hip and inserts down below our knee. This is a structure that could cause pain up at the hip or down at the knee, so it is important that we find a stretch that really hits the cause of the problem and that is usually up at the hip. This is a stretch you should feel mostly on the proximal portion of the hip which will help the entire structure loosen up.
Box Hip Flexor Stretch
Tight hip flexors are common in nearly everybody just due to our daily lifestyles, whether be sitting at a desk, driving, or riding a bike, our hip flexors are usually in a shortened state. With tight hip flexors could come a slight anterior pelvic tilt, that pelvic tilt will now put our hamstrings in a constant lengthened (weakened) state. So tight hip flexors could cause other problems too. My favorite hip flexor stretch is the half kneeling box hip flexor stretch. This position really gets to the deep hip flexor musculature (iliacus and psoas) much better than other hip flexor stretches.
Baptist Sports Medicine’s physicians and athletic trainers will be providing the medical coverage for the UCI Cyclo-Cross World Championships Feb. 1, 2 and 3, 2013.
For more information on keeping yourself healthy and ready for your next race please go to www.BaptistSportsMedKy.com and read more articles from Director of Sports Performance: Nick Sarantis, MS, ATC, CSCS