Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Good Stretches Look Awkward

Those who read this blog semi-regularly should know by now that my knees/hips/hamstrings/quads are my trouble areas. If you haven't gathered that already, then I have to question your reading comprehension.

Anyway, K is good for a great many things, and, once more proving her worth as a running buddy and friend, she shared some excellent stretches with me after a run last week that left my hamstrings burning. Having thanked her publicly for these magical moves, another friend requested I share. Because the jargon and official names of the stretches escape me, and because I'm a glutton for punishment and public humiliation, I've decided to post my own low-quality, embarrassing pictures for your amusement and instruction. (Anything in the name of education, right?)

Many of these stretches will look familiar to you. You'll likely go, "Oh yeah, I've done this one before, and looked a lot cuter while doing it, too." Kindly squelch sharing those kinds of thoughts, and bask in the result of these stretches: virtually pain-free runs!

Please note that my stretching buddies are Champ (the dog) and Archie (the bird), and they deserve as much attention as I do, if not more.

So...starting with the most awkward first...

Here I am in the starting position with Champ and Archie helping out. I am going to cross one knee over my body, turn in the opposite direction, and reach my arm out. The point is to feel the stretch mainly in your lower back.

This stretch is utterly painless for me, and I could stay in this position for minutes at a time. It just feels really good for my back.

At this point, Archie bit Champ's tail and sent him scurrying away. I then moved into the ultimate embarrassing stretch to do in public, especially in loose shorts:

The photo of the other leg won't upload correctly, so this is all you get of this beautifully elegant pose. (Actually, it's a shame because the other view is much clearer.) Hook one leg over the other, grasp the back of the "upright" leg, and pull. Make sure to pull your leg down toward your chest until you feel the stretch, but don't hurt yourself. As much as I kind of hate this stretch, it's a love-hate relationship, because it does wonders for my hamstrings and lower back.

That finally brings me to my new favorite stretch! New ready position needed:

You will need something to hold your balance, especially if you stretch this way after a grueling run that leaves you with noodle-legs. Also, I recommend definitely doing this stretch on a soft surface; your knees will thank you. Basically, you'll grab hold of something with one hand, grab your back ankle with the other, and pull your foot up toward your butt. Keep your back straight. The closer to your butt your knee goes, the more excellent the stretch.

So there you have it. This post is brought to you by my total adoration of these stretches and my complete lack of shame. Obviously I like others, like the butterfly or the good old "sit down, fold a leg in, touch your toes" business, but let's be real, here: the more awkward a stretch looks, the better it feels! The existence and public posting of these photos is proof of that.



  1. Ooh!! The middle one can be converted to a public-appropriate one if you sit upright on a chair, cross an ankle over the opposite knee, and lean forward. Keep the knee/leg parallel to the floor and it really gets the piriformis and "deep six" lateral rotators beneath your glutes.

    1. Ah, thanks for the advice! The worst thing about that stretch is doing it in public while wearing shorts!