Gary Jones offers his words of wisdom on 5 Ways to Warm Down in the Guardian 15th September 2014
This stretch is ideal for walkers or runners, especially those that favour barefoot-style shoes or forefoot landing, as they put extra strain on the calves. “It stretches the oftenneglected deep muscles of the calf (soleus), along with the upper back,” says Gary Jones, a sports physiotherapist. “Runners often forget to stretch the upper back, but keeping it flexible is vital for efficient running.”
Stand with feet hip-width apart, then slowly bend your knees and go into a deep squat down by sticking your bottom out. You should feel a stretch in your calves. At the same time, raise your arms above your head. You can rest them against a Wall if you find it easier. Hold for five to 10 seconds, come back up and repeat three to five times.
A simple move that will simultaneously stretch the deep calf and ankle on the front leg, and hip flexors and quadriceps on the trailing leg. “This is essential for runners in particular, as it targets the muscles that become notoriously tight through running,” says Gary.
Stand with feet together, then lunge forward with your left leg and lower your right knee as close to the ground as you can. Keep the left knee in line with your second and third toe and don’t overarch your lower back.
“To add in an upper body stretch, as you lunge with your left leg, stretch your right arm across your body to open up the back of the shoulders.”
Crossed-leg siqe stretch
If you’re a swimmer, this is an essential stretch for you, but it’s also beneficial for cyclists and runners. It stretches the upper back, shoulders and triceps.
“It also opens up the muscle in the outer hip and stretches the obliques in the lower back, often implicated in back pain,” says Gary.
Stand with feet hip-width apart, then place your right leg behind your left. Next, bend to the left and place your left hand on your hip, then lift your right arm and stretch it over your head. You should feel the stretch’ under your ribcage and down towards your hip. Straighten up and repeat on the opposite side, with your left leg behind your right.
Cycling tightens your hamstrings, so it’s vital to stretch them afterwards to avoid back pain and injury. “This twostage stretch will also target the gluteal muscles inJhe bottom,” says Gary.
Stand in front of a bench, lift your left leg and rest your foot on the bench, with toes pointing away from you. Bend the knee of your right leg and feel the stretch along the back of your left leg. Hold for 20-30 seconds. Pull your toes towards you to add a stretch to the calf and rotate the foot to one side then the other, to stretch the inside and outside of the hamstring.
Next, lift your leg off the bench and place the ankle across the thigh of your right leg. Bend your right leg, lowering into a squat and feel the stretch through the gluteal tnuscle. Repeat on the other side.
In both stages of this stretch, take a deep breath and, as you exhale, try to move little more into the stretch
Upper body twist
A great stretch for swimmers and cyclists, in particular, but also useful for runners. “It mobilises the upper back between the shoulder blades and mid-back,” says Gary. “It also stretches out the pectorals on the chest. Stiffness in those areas of the back can radiate up to the neck and down to the lower back, so they shouldn’t be neglected.”
Lie on your side, with your thighs at a right angle to your trunk. Place your arms in front of you, palms together. Then slowly raise the top arm in a semi-circle, rotating your upper body as you do so. Keep rotating until your arm reaches as far behind you as is comfortable (you do not have to get the arm to the floor), letting your head follow the movement. Your hips should remain facing forward. Hold for 10-20 seconds. Roll to the opposite side and repeat.