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Like many runners, I have very strong, but very tight, muscles.
My hamstrings and hip flexors? Forget about it: they are as inflexible as it’s possible for muscles to be.
Nearly a decade ago, I did my first ‘real’ yoga class and was utterly intimidated. It was Yoga for Athletes class so thankfully I wasn’t the only running induced, tight-hamstringed person there.
After more than a month of taking classes 2 or 3 times a week, I was able to touch my toes.
For me, that’s huge.
I haven’t been able to find a yoga class I love in the Bay Area and I can’t seem to get back into the habit of a regular yoga practice, so I’ve lost many of the gains that I made doing regular yoga.
The Morning Stretch Experiment
I have a usual morning routine that is based on Hal Elrod’s The Miracle Morning: The Not-So-Obvious Secret Guaranteed to Transform Your Life (Before 8AM). I write some morning pages, do some self-help/self-improvement reading, recite a few mantras, and do some visualizations. In the past few months, I’ve cobbled together a daily stretching routine to include as part of that routine.
The basis of the program was a few pins I found on Pinterest (the source of all good and accurate fitness advice, but hey, you use what you have), adapted and added onto based on my areas of focus (read: I need to do more plank/core work).
After doing this routine (nearly) every morning for the past few months, I can touch my toes again (remember, for me that’s huge). I have noticed a marked improvement in my flexibility and mobility. My hip flexors are noticeably happier when I run the trails.
The added benefit of a daily stretching routine that I do first thing in the morning, is that even if I don’t accomplish anything else physical during the day, I got one this one thing done.
The Daily Stretching Routine
By design, I made my routine fairly simple.
It’s enough to be challenging, but not so tough that I am tempted to skip it.
The ideal is to hold each move for 5 deep breaths, which is roughly 20-30 seconds. Doing both right and left legs when necessary.
This routine is only meant as a quick morning stretch and isn’t a replacement for a full-on yoga class, but to paraphrase Gretchen Rubin: what you do every day really is better than what you do once in a while. Doing a simple stretch every morning will end up more powerful than my meaning to go to a yoga class, but then never getting around to it.
Give it a shot. Feel free to adjust it to suit your needs and the areas you need to focus on.
You’ll be surprised what 10 minutes a day can do.
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