Stretches and Recovery Exercises for Cross Country Running

2021_04_ CC Stretches Recovery _346321-Blog

In cross country races, athletes trade in the track and smooth pavement for more natural, and likely rough, terrain. Many runners train vigorously to gain the strength and endurance required for a cross country race in an uncontrolled environment. This training process requires the athlete to maintain a delicate balance between fitness gains and recovery time.

The long distance, unpredictable weather, and rough terrain present in most cross-country races can pose unique challenges to a runner that you won’t experience on a treadmill or the sidewalk.  There will be no shortage of road hazards that can trip you up and cause an unsuspecting injury like calf strains, ankle sprains, or shin splints.

Fortunately, there are a few things you can do before and after your run that can help you avoid these injuries. Staying hydrated, having a proper warm-up and cool-down routine, and practicing recovery exercises can all contribute to a smooth, pain-free race.

*Disclaimer: Always consult with your doctor before starting any exercise program. If you experience any numbness, tingling or reproduction of your symptoms, please contact your doctor.

Before You Run

In addition to revving up the heart and lungs, a good warm-up routine can also help improve flexibility and joint range of motion. Start warming up for your run by taking a brisk, 5-minute walk. You can enhance your warm-up by adding some walking lunges, leg swings, or jumping jacks while you walk.

Below are a few more simple stretches you can add to your warm-up routine that can help loosen up your low back, hips, and legs.

After You Run

Once you cross the finish line, take a few minutes to briskly walk around and catch your breath. A 5-minute walk will help regulate your breathing and heart rate. Once you’ve cooled down, practice a few static stretches to help improve recovery and reduce post-workout muscle soreness.

Hamstring Stretch:

  • While lying face up begin by placing the band under the foot.
  • With the band securely placed, raise your leg up by flexing the hip and knee.
  • The foot will be slightly flexed with your toes pointing towards you. This is the starting position.
  • Slowly straighten the knee by pushing your heel towards the ceiling.
  • You will feel a stretch in the back of your thigh/hamstring.
  • Hold the stretch for 30 – 45 seconds, then return to the starting position.
  • Complete 3 sets of 30-45 second holds, twice a day.
  • Reduce time or discontinue if you feel numbness, tingling and or pain when completing this stretch.

Standing Calf Stretch:

  • Stand and place both hands on a wall, with your feet about half a meter from the wall.
  • Place one leg behind the other and lean your body forward without bending the back knee until you feel a stretch in your back calf.
  • Remember to keep correct arch position in your foot.
  • Maintain the stretch and relax.
  • Hold 15 progressing to 30 seconds and repeat 3x.
  • Ensure both feet are facing forward

Your feet and ankles will also need some TLC after a tough race. Practicing foot and ankle mobility exercises can help improve your range of motion and help reduce your chances of getting painful injuries like plantar fasciitis.

If you notice any tension or muscle knots that the above stretches can’t fix, try smoothing them out with a foam roller or lacrosse ball. These recovery tools can help release built-up tension and smooth out fascial adhesions that cause irritation and pain. For most runners, it is important to roll your calves, IT band, hamstrings, quadriceps, and glutes.

Airrosti Treats Running Injuries

At Airrosti, we know that runners and other active individuals don’t want pain to slow them down. That’s why our providers develop personalized treatment plans for each patient to help pinpoint and eliminate the underlying cause of their pain. By treating the source and not just the symptoms, our providers help patients return to pain-free activity in an average of just three visits (based on patient-reported outcomes).

Don’t let pain trip you up. Call us today at (800) 404-6050 to learn more about Airrosti and find a provider near you. We offer both in-house and virtual appointments to best suit your needs.

Read our Medical Disclaimer here.

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