During lockdown a lot of people have taken up running: it’s an easy way of exercising, getting the heart rate up, and getting out of the house to catch some fresh air. That’s awesome, and I cannot wait to see you all at a 5km ParkRun when the Corona crisis is over and we are finally free again to see people face to face.
If you’re new to running, your body will need some time to adjust to this new form of movement. You might experience tightness in the hip area, sore muscles in the legs or painful shins and ankles. Start with short runs, and mix in some walking breaks. Even if it feels “too easy”, your body will be grateful for a slower pace.
To strengthen the ankles, calves, and shins, practise calf raises. You can do these while brushing your teeth. Stand upright with feet hip-distance apart. Start to lift the heels off the ground, balance on your toes for a moment, and slowly lower down again. Repeat 20 times. When you feel super stable on both legs you can start practising on one leg only.
After running, take a couple of minutes to do some stretches. If you can take your shoes off and give your feet the chance to experience an interesting surface to stand on, that’s even better.
- Stand upright with your feet close together. Lift one foot towards your backside. Take hold of it with your hand and gently pull the foot towards your back. To start with, keep your knee close to the knee of your standing leg. If you want to go further, you can start to push your foot into your hand and let the knee travel further to the back. You will feel a stretch in the front of your thigh and hip flexor. Hold for 10 seconds and swap sides. Repeat each side 3 times.
- Starting from a wide standing straddle position, start to shift your weight into your right foot, then bend your right knee. Let your upper body come forwards and lean on your right thigh with your forearms. Lengthen the left leg. You should feel the stretch in your inner thigh. Hold for 10 seconds and change sides. Repeat each side 3 times.
- Staying in your straddle position, bring your upper body to the centre. Fold forward over your legs form your hips, so the hips come into flexion. Start to lengthen the legs and shift your weight slightly into the toes, sitting bones lifting up to the sky. Hold for 20 seconds.
- Stand with your feet hip distance apart. Cross your right foot over left, fold forwards over your legs, and start to lengthen the legs. Take 5-10 deep breaths in and out, feeling the stretch on the outside of your leg. Then swap sides: cross the left leg over right, fold forwards and hold for 5-10 breaths. Repeat each side 3 times.
Finally, give your whole body a good shake and enjoy your shower!