Archive for stretches

learning to love your foam roller

Editor’s Note:  We always have a love/hate relationship with certain things, like foam rollers.  There is no doubt to how effective this low cost tool is for runners and other active people.  So, learn it, live it and love it! 

Self-Myofascial Release, also referred to as “foam rolling” is a stretching technique similar to a deep tissue massage that focuses on loosening overactive and tight muscles. Foam Rolling can be used as a warm up and before static stretching and as a cool down to relax tightened muscles. It is beneficial for flexibility, reducing injuries, improving muscle imbalances, muscle recovery, and overall performance.

To begin, slowly roll on desired area to find a possible knot or tender spot. Hold pressure on the knot for a minimum of 20 to 30 seconds or until the discomfort is reduced before releasing. By applying gentle pressure to the knot you are stimulating the Golgi tendon which will relax the underlying muscular tension. This process assists with restoring the soft tissue back to its optimal level of function. Once pressure is reduced, the key is to continue to roll slowly (1 inch per minute) over muscle group area, not a fast rapid roll.

As runners, we have a tendency to focus stretching our lower body, however rolling our back region is important as well. By relaxing these muscles, flexibility increases which assists greatly with our overall posture and in return our running form is enhanced.

Calf Complex (Gastrocnemius/Soleus)

For optimal pressure, place right leg over left and place foam roller under mid-calf, shift body weight to comfort level and slowly roll calf area to find most tender spot. For less pressure uncross legs.



Lie on one side, place foam roller in front of hip. For more assistance, cross the top leg over lower leg, with foot touching the floor and the bottom leg raised slightly off floor. Slowly roll from hip joint to knee.


Lie prone with one thigh flexed and abducted. Place the foam roller inside the upper thigh region; slowly roll to the medial thigh area.


Sit on top of the foam roller, position on the back of the hip, glute area, cross one foot to the opposite knee. Slightly lean body weight into the hip for more pressure and slowly move around to find desired spot.


In a seated position, position foam roller under legs to the back of upper legs, place hands to the side to support weight, lift your hips and firmly shift weight to one leg. Slowly roll from below the hip to above the knee to find desired tension point.


Lie prone, place foam roller underneath top of leg, and keep foot off the ground. Shift weight to one side, roll from knee to below the hip until tension is reduced. Switch weight to opposite leg.

Latissimus Dorsi

Lie on the floor to one side with arm extended; place the foam roller under your arm. Slowly move back and forth to find tension points.


Lay flat on your back, placing the foam roller under the upper back. Raise your hips off the ground and stabilize your head in a neutral position. Shift weight to one side at a time, rolling upper to middle of back.

7 great static stretches


This is the first in an ongoing series of stretches that you can use.  The most important thing is using the proper form to get the most out of each stretch!  Stretching every day after you run will increase your flexibility and help prevent injuries. Static stretches should be performed after your workout, not before, so you’re not stretching cold muscles.  Be sure and hold for 20 – 30 seconds, doing 2 – 3 sets.


 ADDUCTOR STRETCH (inner thigh) Stand in a straddled stance with feet beyond shoulder width apart. Both feet should be pointed straight ahead. Slowly move to the side until a stretch in the straight leg’s groin area is felt.   


 QUADRICEP – Standing stationary grab and hold your right ankle with your left hand, pull foot closely in towards your buttocks. Maintain straight posture.  



 HAMSTRING – Lay on your back and keep your back flat while looking upward. Grab the back of right thigh (not behind knee) with both hands and pull into a 90 degree position. Then slowly straighten your knee as much as possible. For a deeper stretch you can use a strap or towel, etc.    
 PIRIFORMIS (lateral hip) – Lay flat on your back, bend knees to 90 degrees, cross right foot over left knee and pull in left knee in towards your chest.     
 CALF COMPLEX– Stand with right foot in front of left with feet firm to the ground. Gently lean into the stretch towards a wall or object while, maintain straight posture, until you feel it in your lower calf muscles.      
 IT BAND– Sit on the ground with your legs out straight.  Bend and cross your right leg over your left knee which is flat on the ground.  Pull your right knee in to your chest firmly with your left elbow.    
 HIP FLEXOR– Step your right leg forward and bend back leg. Rotate back hip and squeeze buttocks. Slowly move hips forward until tension is felt in side being stretched.     

dynamic warm-up stretches

by: Sara McCauley, Energy Director

The purpose of warming up is to prepare the body for physical activity and to prevent injury.  A Dynamic Warm Up is an active warm up involving movement that mimics the actual activity of an intense exercise or a long run.  If your muscles haven’t been worked they will be cold and less flexible. By stretching inactive muscles are you putting more stress on the body than good.

Benefits of a Dynamic Warm Up:

  • Increases cardiorespiratory system’s ability to perform work and oxygen capacity
  • Increases heart rate which produces more blood flow through your muscles
  • Prepares joints for activity especially through your hips, spine and ankles (all crucial for running)
  • Increases flexibility
  • Increases mental readiness of an individual

Exercises: Perform for 30 seconds, 2 times each.

HIGH KNEES– Start in place, lift knee high as possible, while swinging opposite arm at 90° in a chopping manner. Move forward.

STRAIGHT LEG KICKS– Stand tall, Lift your left leg out in front of you while raising your right arm, alternate leg while walking forward. Goal is to reach as close to your toes while maintain proper posture in your chest and shoulders.

BUTT KICKS- Kick leg up so that foot approaches but while jogging forward alternate arm swing with each kick.

HIP ROTATION- Opens hips Kick legs across body with a “skip” type motion. Hand touches opposite foot.

EASY JOG- jog in place.