What are the most valuable stretches you can do after a running injury? Well, that’s what we’re talking about today on the Doc On The Run Podcast.
Everybody’s short on time, this is true for runners and it’s also true for injured runners because you probably have a lot of different stuff that you’re working on. You’re trying to do strengthening things you’re trying to do stretching things. You’re trying to focus on all the nutritional changes that you can make. And if you’re trying to make progress as fast as possible, you really have to do the things that will give you the most progress in the least amount of time.
Many runners I’ve talked to whether it’s on a second opinion consultation or somebody in the fast track challenge, they really want to know which stretches will help them if they want to know which one or two or three stretches really will help the most. And so, I was really thinking about this when I was out on a run the other day. The way that I think about it is really simple. The stretches that are going to be the most valuable for you are the ones that actually addressed your unique biomechanics given the level of limitations you’ve had as a consequence of your injury.
So, you’re really looking for your limiters that are related to your running form and the sort of detrimental changes that have happened to running form since your injury. And you really have to think also about what really contributes in terms of tightness and stiffness, what really contributes to your propensity to get re-injured again, because the very worst thing is to start running, keep running and then get injured again and get sidelined again.
There are a couple of ways that you can go about figuring out which are the best stretches for you. Of course, one way is just go see a professional, see a physical therapist or somebody who’s going to help you assess that. But there are a couple of other simple ways that I do with people who are in the fast track challenge consultation calls that I have found to be very, very helpful.
The first way is to actually take 10 or 20 stretches and again, you’re trying to make progress. You’re not trying to necessarily find the perfect thing. You’re just trying to find something simple and quick that will definitely help and here’s how you can tell if it’ll definitely help. So, you go and pick maybe 10 or 20 different stretches that seem to be stretches that might help runners specifically so not just stretches in general, but things specific for runners.
What you do is you try those out, and you see where the biggest discrepancy is. So if you watch a demonstration video, for example, for someone who’s doing a stretch, and you see what their form looks like when they’re doing the stretch and for you, it’s very difficult to come even close to matching the form that you see in the instructional video or the image that you see that demonstrates a stretch, well then, there’s probably going to be a big payoff there. You take the stretches that are where you’re the worst. Basically, when you look at a comparison between you and what the ideal form is for that stretch. You take the ones where you’re definitely terrible at it, those are probably going to have a much bigger payoff than when you’re already pretty good at.
The other option is to simply try 10 or 20 stretches and see which ones feel most difficult for you without even paying necessarily so much attention to the ideal stretch. You just try those stretches and you figure out and identify where it feels really hard to do because if it seems hard to do, then it’s probably going to be the correct path for you to improve it and you know the obstacle is the way here.
So, if the stretch is very very difficult, it’s very hard for you to hold that stretch that pose, it may have the biggest payoff for you. But you’ve got to do something if you’re doing no stretching at all and you’ve been injured, you’re probably making a big mistake. So, if you can do the stretches that are going to be the biggest payoff. It’ll take you the least amount of time and you’ll make the most improvement with the time that you spent.
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