Early Season Running Stretches

With some warm early season weather these last few weeks the trails around Bozeman are getting drier which means it’s time to start venturing out. We’re all eager to get outside and enjoy all the amazing trails Bozeman has to offer but early season running can be a difficult time for runners as far as injury prevention goes. Many of us run a minimal amount in the winter, and then as the weather warms up transition fairly quickly to running. It’s always a good idea to try to ease into your miles in the spring and summer but we recognize that’s often harder than it sounds! So below are a few stretches to add into your routine during this early season to help keep tightness under control if you do go a little overboard! Make sure you stretch after you run and on your days off too!

  1. Calf/Achilles Stretch:

    Place your foot up on something (1/2 foam roll, dumbbell, rolled up towel) and keeping your heel on the ground and your knee straight, step over the roll. You should feel a gentle stretch in your calf and maybe your achilles. Hold 20-30 sec and repeat 2-3 times.


2. Quad/Hip Flexor Stretch:

Place your foot up on a bench or a chair; tuck your hips under keeping your core engaged and lunge down on your front leg. You should feel a stretch in your quad and hip flexor. Hold for 20-30 sec, repeat 2-3 times.


3. Hamstring Stretch

Put one foot in front of the other; bend your knees and reach your hands to the ground; keeping hands on the ground gently try to straighten your knees until you feel a stretch in your hamstring. Hold for 20-30 sec, repeat 2-3 times each leg.


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Breathing and Your Pelvic Floor

The pelvic floor is certainly a hot topic of conversation for many men and women. Specifically, people begin to focus on their pelvic floor when they are having incontinence, urgency/frequency, prolapse, or pain associated with going to the bathroom or having sex. These are all issues related to pelvic floor dysfunction. But, what many don’t realize, is that your pelvic floor is also integral in one of our most basic functions: breath.

The diaphragm, our respiratory muscle, is located at the bottom of the ribcage. At rest, the diaphragm is a domelike shape, and with inhalation the diaphragm muscle contracts and drops downward toward your pelvis. This downward motion is followed by a shifting downward of internal organs, into the pelvic bowl. The pelvic floor muscles and fascia make up the bottom of the pelvic bowl. So, with this downward force during inhalation, the pelvic floor muscles also descend or stretch slightly downward. Immediately following inhalation and pelvic floor descent, is exhalation, and similarly, the pelvic floor follows the diaphragm as it rises upward to a resting position. This synchronous rising and falling of the diaphragm and pelvic floor is often referred to as the “piston effect”.

Not to be left out, the lower abdominal muscles (transverse abdominis) also contribute to this synchronous movement pattern. Working together by relaxing and stretching with inhalation and a “belly breath”, and tightening and drawing inward slightly with exhalation. In this way, the diaphragm, abdominals, and pelvic floor make up an abdominal cylinder that modulates intra-abdominal forces and pressure changes.

When this cylinder isn’t coordinating well together, or if there is tightness or weakness within the system, we see common musculoskeletal complaints: low back pain, SIJ pain, poor stability through the back and pelvis, hip pain, pelvic pain, incontinence, urgency/frequency of urine or stool, prolapse, poor posture, balance issues, and intolerance to exercise.

Our pelvic floor physical therapists can help evaluate these movement patterns and coordination of these systems, and create a treatment approach specific to you and your individual challenges.