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 (not always the best source of 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 also 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.