Stretching for Muscle Relief

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Pixmac000048186357Stretching for runners is an important method to finding muscular relief.  Often times, it is the step in our running routing that is most neglected.  (tsk, tsk!)

Our expert contributor and master trainer, Shaun Zietlin, reminds us why stretching is beneficial and has shared 3 essential stretches with us for the most overactive muscles we work in our bodies.

First, let me say that stretching is quite beneficial and really does work. It is absolutely essential and should be included in everyone’s exercise routine. Depending on the stretch is it important to either stretch before or after the workout. Static Stretching should only be performed after the workout. To contrast, Dynamic or Active Stretching can be done before the workout.

Below are some of the most overactive muscles that need stretching and how to find relief in stretching them:

Lower back – This is obviously the area where most people feel deep tragic pain in their backs. A quick, but effective stretch that anyone can do anywhere is to keep your legs at shoulder width and put your hands on your lower back. Next, lean back bending at the lower back and going as far backwards as you feel controlled. This is called a standing backbend and will relieve stress in the lower back. This stretch should be held for 30 seconds after the workout.

Latissimus Dorsi- is the muscle that extends around the sides of the torso. This area is usually overly tight on most people and requires extensive stretching. To stretch your “lats,” I suggest using the foam roller, which is also known as self-myofascial release. Place the foam roller on the floor and lay towards the front of this cylinder object. Place your arm over your head and lay the foam underneath your underarm. Roll slightly down and then up to find the spot on your “lats” that feels tight. This spot may be a little painful, but not to worry, you are successfully stretching the area that needs it. The foam acts closely to a deep tissue massage. You will do both sides to see which side is tighter on your body. One side should be tighter. That is usually the dominant side of the person. Make sure to create symmetry; you stretch the side that is tighter on yourself one extra time. Therefore, 3 times of 30 seconds of the side that is tighter to 2 times to the side that is not as tight. This stretch can be performed before or after the workout.

Whole back and neck- The upper trapezius and deep cervical neck muscles are extremely overactive on most people and can cause nagging pain in your upper back. This next stretch will not only relieve these areas, but will stretch the entire back as well and it is so easy to perform. It is called the “back relaxation” stretch. To begin, take a stability ball and lay on your back with your arms hanging over your head. Your knees are slightly bent and your feet are firmly on the ball. While performing this stretch ensure the stability ball supports your neck and hold for 30 seconds for 3 repetitions. The main premise of this stretch is to just “relax” and let gravity stretch your muscles. This stretch should help maintain your best spinal mobility and should be performed after the workout.

Shaun A Zetlin, Master Trainer, Zetlin Fitness

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