A Before-Bed Stretching Routine (+Giveaway)

Before-Bed Stretching Routine

What better way to kick of Thanksgiving week than by showing how thankful I am for all of you with a giveaway!? Soybu graciously sent me the leggings (and bra and sweater) I’m wearing in today’s post and is letting me giveaway my favorite item to one of you. It was a tough call because I love all three, but the leggings are just SO comfy. I know you’ll love them! You can enter to win them below, but first I wanted to share some of my favorite stretches to do before bed. There’s nothing like rolling around on the carpet to make you feel like a million bucks! Especially after a big meal …Before-Bed Stretching Routine

Before-Bed Stretches

Especially on days when I’ve spent a lot of time sitting at my desk, I love taking 10 minutes to stretch before bed. It makes for a much more comfortable night’s sleep! Here are some of my favorite stretches: Before-Bed Stretching Routine

Soybu Camii Leggings Giveaway

Before-Bed Stretching RoutineEnter for you chance to win the leggings I’m wearing (you pick the color and size) by leaving a comment on this post telling me what you’re thankful for this year. Make sure you use the widget below to verify that you commented. I’ll pick a winner on Thanksgiving — good luck!

Contest is open to US residents only.

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What are you thankful for this year?

What are some of your favorite stretches?

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My Favorite Areas to Foam Roll

Where I Foam RollAs part of the #MakeYourMove campaign with Kohl’s, I was able to pick out some goodies from their wide array of workout clothes and fitness gear, and I knew instantly that this foam roller would be one of them. Up until a few months ago, I would use the ones at the studios after teaching, but didn’t have one at home. Talk about a game changer!

You can use a foam roller over pretty much your entire body (not your face—that’d be weird), but here are my personal tight areas to which I pay extra attention:

Where I Foam Roll

Where I Foam RollCalves

My calves are like angrily clenched fists they’re so tight at all times. This is the most painful (but necessary) area of my body to foam roll, especially if I’ve been doing a lot of running. I’ll spend a lot of time slowly rolling up and down, stopping at any trigger points for 30 seconds to release them. Sometimes I’ll spend five full minutes on each calf because they’re that knotted (thanks, tap dancing and high heels!). Where I Foam Roll

Glutes

I think rolling out the booty feels so good. Not even hurts-so-good—just plain good. I grimace through my calves and then reward myself with a good glute roll, paying extra attention to the side butt area. Where I Foam Roll

TFL/IT Band

I know a lot of people perform SMR on their TFL by laying on their stomach with the foam roller in the crux of their hip, but that only feels effective to me if it’s done with a tennis ball for some reason. Instead, I’ll roll along my outer thigh area to get the IT Band and then pay extra attention up high by my outer/front hip, slighting rotating my body forward as I do to get the TFL. Where I Foam Roll

Adductors

I love using a foam roller on this area because the megaformer nails your inner thighs like no other. During weeks where I take or teach a bunch of classes, it feels MAGICAL to roll out my inner thighs (adductors). I find myself just sort of laying facedown on the floor for awkwardly long periods of time with the foam roller in this position. Where I Foam Roll Where I Foam Roll

Hamstrings

If I’ve done a specifically hamstring-heavy workout, I’ll pay attention to this area, but I honestly don’t always feel the foam roller effectively here. The smaller the surface area of your pressure point, the more intense, so often I’ll opt to use a tennis ball or a textured roller instead along the back of my thighs. Where I Foam Roll

Bonus Stretch: Opening Up the Chest

I don’t “roll” so much in this one. I basically drape my body over the roller with it positioned under my armpits and just lay there at the end of a foam rolling session. It looks bizarre but feels so, so good to me. Where I Foam Roll

And I’ll leave you with a few facial expression bloopers because they sum up the love-hate relationship we all have with foam rolling so well … foam-rolling-faces

Hurts so … good? Where I Foam Roll

WEARING | Juicy Couture Beach Please Tank & Gaiam Stirrup Yoga Leggings both c/o Kohl’s

What are your tight areas? How do you #MakeYourMove with the foam roller?

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This post is sponsored by FitFluential on behalf of Kohl’s.

My Stretching Routine for Long Runs (Warm-Up & Cool-Down)

running-warm-up-cool-down-stretching-10Stretching is, oddly enough, a pretty controversial topic in the fitness community. What stretches are safe, when you should do them, if you should stretch at all—I’ve heard and read countless different opinions on what’s best, so I want to emphasize that this is my stretching routine for long-distance runs. I’m not saying it’s best or necessarily right for you. Here are some facts about stretching (that I believe to be true) that explain why:

  • Stretching after your workout is more important than stretching before your workout. This is, to a certain extent, going to depend on the type of workout you’re doing. This also applies more to traditional, static stretching (holding a stretch for 30+ seconds) than to dynamic stretching. I think a warm-up is important before long runs, but I actually don’t think you should do static stretching at all until after. This isn’t just based on my personal experience either; there are studies showing that muscles can’t reach peak performance levels during a workout if they’ve been stretched beforehand.
  • Only stretch tight muscles. This applies to static stretching and self-myofascial release (foam rolling). I like to dynamically stretch/warm-up all the muscles that are going to be used in my workout, but when it comes to really getting deep into post-run stretching and foam rolling, I just focus on the tight muscles. I could launch into a whole essay on muscle imbalances to explain more of the logic behind this, but I think that might actually deserve its own blog post. My calves are always exceptionally tight after long runs, so I focus a lot on them. And I only do the quad stretch pictured below if they’re tight from the previous day’s workout—otherwise I just focus on my hamstrings (always a little tight!).

So keeping all that in mind, here’s what I do before and after a long run (for me, a non-marathoner, I consider a long run to be anything over 5 miles):

warm-up-cool-down-routine-running

PRE-RUN: DYNAMIC STRETCHING

I think of dynamic stretching as getting the blood flowing and warming up the muscles that are about to be worked. It’s continuous motion around a joint, as opposed to holding a stretch/position, and I typically do 10-20 reps of each movement (20 for the toe touches, calf pedaling, high knees, butt kickers; 10 for the hip circles, 5 in each direction). 

POST-RUN: STATIC STRETCHING

This is “stretching” as people typically think of it. Hold each stretch for 30 seconds in order for it to be effective. 

POST-RUN: FOAM ROLLING

My calves are always tight so I make sure to foam roll ‘em out. With the roller under my calf, I cross the foot on top of it, brace my bodyweight on my hands, and slowly roll up and down my calf. When I hit a tight spot (you know when you do)—I hold it there for at least 30 seconds, then continue to roll until I’ve hit all the little knots.

running-warm-up-cool-down-stretching-20

Three quick notes about my stretching routine that someone would probably call me out on if I weren’t to address them now…

1. I’m not warming up or stretching my upper body. I know—in an ideal world, I probably would. But I wanted to share what I actually do, and on most days, I don’t feel like stretching at all so just focus on the primary muscles used (running = lower body).

2. I’m statically stretching before foam rolling. I know that NASM and lots of fitness professionals advice foam rolling first in order to make the static stretching more effective (basically break up the knots first so that you can get deeper into the static stretch). I actually do see the benefit of that, but when it comes to my calves, I feel like my static stretching is limited more by the range of my ankle bones than my muscles, so I save the foam rolling for last (more convenient).

3. I should stretch/foam roll my IT/TFL bands—a typically tight area for runners. I know. But I’d be a big fat liar if I included it in this post because I never do. That’s what my weekly yoga class is for…right? 😉

If you’re wondering how this differs from my stretching routine for my short runs, it’s simple: I don’t stretch if I’m just heading out for a quick 3 or 4 miles. I KNOW. I should. But there are only 24 hours in a day…and I am lazy.

running-warm-up-cool-down-stretching-21

WEARING | jacket: c/o Lands’ End / shorts: c/o Cory Vines / sneakers: c/o Puma

I got the chance to team up with the awesome people over at Lands’ End and wear their Performance Sport Jacket in this post. I also have it in pink and blue color-block, and love both! I think the attached hood with a high-neck collar is a cool look, and you can never go wrong with thumbholes—am I right or amiright.

The looser fit was great for adding layers this winter, and I’ve now been wearing it with just a tank and shorts for cooler morning runs this spring. Lands’ End now has a whole activewear line, so be sure to check out these jackets as well as all their other gear!

Tell me about your post/pre-run stretching routine! How does it compare to mine? I know there are lots of different opinions on stretching, and even if you think my routine is stupid and misinformed, I want to hear about it—drop some knowledge in the comments section! 🙂

And I can’t not leave you with this (because honestly isn’t this how we all feel??)…

ain't nobody got time

Amen, gurlfriend.

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