Best post run stretches for IT Band and Hips – Back to basics

2015 is all about creating new habits {yes that’s my favorite word}. Some days are about the small things, like swapping an apple for applesauce to get more fiber and move us towards our health goal.

Others are habits that take us leaps and bounds closer to a goal, like weekly speed workouts that leave us ready to hurl, but moving faster. 

Today we are continuing with the back to basics series and focusing on one little thing that I know we all “mean to do”, but often don’t: STRETCHING.

And yes stretching is different from yoga, find out why here>>
A runners guide to the best post run stretches for IT Band and hipsWHY THE POST RUN STRETCH
The debate continues to rage about the benefits (proven or not) of post run stretching.

While I don’t think it needs to be extensive or even the instant we stop running, I’ve seen in many runners I work with that a little time spent stretching can both feel good and help to release tight muscles, which goes on to prevent injury.

I think the Running Doc makes some fantastic points in his discussion of the post run stretch, you should read the whole thing but here are a couple highlights:

Running injuries occur, most often, as a result of “overuse,” where a tight structure pulls at an incorrect biomechanical angle, causing inflammation and pain.

Would anyone get ITB syndrome without a tight ITB? No.

As we age, our muscles and tendons get tighter and more brittle. Not stretching will land you in my or my colleagues’ office someday.

One of the best things about stretching for runners is that it should be more passive and thus relaxing. In fact, restorative yoga or light stretching is often better for us than a hard core class because we need to mentally and physically just let go!

And for those who ask, DO NOT STATIC STRETCH BEFORE the run. This is a great way to get injured, instead take a look at this 5 minute dynamic warm up to get your muscles loose.

Following are a few of the best restorative stretches for runners (and up we’re using props today!).

Often running leaves us both energized and tightly wound {anyone else find it harder to reach your toes post run?!} so using a yoga strap and block can ensure we don’t over stretch or help us increase our range of motion.

These stretches are also super useful for anyone who sits all day, as we’ve shown repeatedly that shortens our muscles which then throws off our stride. So take a deep breathe, give yourself a moment to relax and just enjoy these stretches, perhaps while catching up on some of those tv shows you pretend not to watch {cough Real Housewives}.

Without further ado the best post run stretches:Restorative Post Run Stretches for IT Band and Hips - Pin it to remember laterBridge with block
I came upon this one by accident, but now swear by it. A yogi friend had me do it while we were waiting for class to start and after 5 minutes of just literally chilling out, I removed the block and my hip popped. In that amazing way where you can tell pressure has been released and things are back in place! Free chiro!

Simply lay on the yoga block for up to 5 minutes. You can start with it flat and then put it on the side as you get used to that and want to increase the stretch a little.

IT Band Stretch
There are all kinds of standing stretches that can help, but this one I’ve found forces you to really see just how tight you are.

Holding the strap in your right hand, around your right foot, begin dropping the leg across your body. Keep your hips and shoulders firmly planted on the ground. 

The tighter your ITB the higher you’ll have to keep your leg to keep everything on the mat. That’s ok, the goal isn’t to get to the ground, it’s to stretch that muscle. Hold 30-60 seconds, switch sides.

Leg Extension
Oddly another place we get tight is our inner thigh. I’m told this is because we neglect this muscle during our solely forward motions.

Hold the strap in your left hand and slowly allow your leg to fall to the right. Don’t go to fast and keep both shoulders on the ground. You may not have a huge range of motion and that’s fine, watch to see if it changes over time.   Hold 30-60 seconds, switch sides.

Quad Stretch with Strap
I love stretching my quads. Maybe that’s because when my knee was so tight, I could feel it release after I spent some time on this stretch.

Since we are focused on passive stretching, try laying on your stomach, keeping knees together and using the yoga strap to pull your heel as close to your bum as you can without pain. Hold 30-60 seconds.

Single Leg Toe Reach
The sit and reach was my least favorite thing ever as an elementary school kid. Mostly because I could reach my knees and that was about it! Since then I’ve continued to spend just a few minutes on this stretch and can certainly tell it allows me to open up my stride more efficiently.

Bring the sole of left foot in to right thigh and extend right leg. Bending from the waist, facing your out stretched leg and keeping your back straight reach for those toes. Hold 30-60 seconds, switch sides. 

Legs Up
Have you ever been in yoga class when they ask you to go in to a shoulder stand, then say if you don’t want to or it’s your cycle don’t…so you just hang there legs up thinking when is this over?

A good way to get some great hip benefits out of that is with the yoga strap. I am not a shoulder stand fan, so I find myself hanging out here for a long time and this helps me hold the position, by simply looping the strap over the feet and holding with shoulders remaining relaxed on the mat.

Inversions help to flush out the legs and get everything in your body moving that might be stagnant.

Calf Stretch with Block
These puppies get tight and a tight calf can lead to shin splits, knee pain and IT Band pain. Nobody wants that, which means whether you wear heels or find this is your place de jour for muscle cramps a long hold static stretch can help.

Lean in to the block for at least 30 seconds, but up to 3 minutes is great.

More IT band and Hip moves:
How to resolve knee and IT Band pain quickly
Exercises for runners knee
Hip extension and mobility for runners

7 restorative and relaxing post run stretches every runner should do from @runtothefinish #MakeYourMove

Yoga socks | Gaiam yoga strap | Yoga block | Gaiam yoga towel | Nike top | Yoga Capri

Back to Basics Series
7 habits of highly fit people
Body weight workout 
Next: kitchen essentials

What is your favorite stretch?

Do you stretch daily?

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

Yoga Month Events and Prizes

One of my favorite things about Miami is FREE yoga. It seems like on any given day you can find somewhere to practice without opening your pocketbook. I’ve said before I’m cheap, so this shouldn’t be much of a surprise! But part of the reason I love these classes is they are frequently outdoors and they are open to EVERYONE.

I would love to know what you are doing to celebrate national yoga month? Are you practicing at home? Finding a new class near you? Attending one of the thousands of free events? Totally ignoring that it’s even happening?

National Yoga Month is here! Every Saturday during September, Athleta will host complimentary yoga classes in all stores. Plus, when you attend a class you’ll be entered to WIN a private yoga class and shopping party for you and your friends! Go to A for locations and class details.


Step 1: Roll out your mat and follow the Embrace Yoga tutorials. These tutorials will help you build strength and perfect your form so you can embrace some of the challenging asanas featured in our catalogs. Once you’re ready, put on your favorite Athleta yoga outfit and strike your favorite pose (pun intended) from one of the tutorials!

Step 2: Follow @Athleta and @SatyaJewelry on Instagram

Step 3: Take a photo of you completing one of the poses from the Embrace Yoga tutorials pictured above.

Step 4: Use the #AthletaEmbrace hashtag, mention @Athleta and upload your photo to Instagram.

Step 5 (optional):  Share your #AthletaEmbrace Instagram photo with friends on Twitter, Facebook, your blog, etc. (Our panel of judges might be extra impressed if your entry has a lot of likes and comments.)

One entry per person. Entries must be submitted by 5:00 PM Pacific time on Sunday, September 30th. The Winner will be announced on the Chi Blog on or before October 12th.

SIX lucky winners will each receive a $200 Athleta Giftcard plus an Ariel Necklace by Satya Jewelry to remind you to embrace life’s journey and stay true to your authentic self.

Ariel Necklace by Satya Jewelry: With semi-precious stones symbolizing love, strength and protection, these necklaces from Satya prepare you for anything life throws your way.

The winner will be chosen by a team of judges representing Athleta & Satya Jewelry. Judges will select the best entry based on the creativity, originality and quality of the submission.

Thanks to Athleta for sponsoring today’s discussion
Gratitude Journal
Sept 5
I am grateful for the opportunity to stretch both mind and body in yoga…outdoors or indoors!

Fitness Retreat – Miami Beach

I have often longingly looked at the Yoga/Surf Retreat in Mexico and wondered what it would be like to shirk all responsibilities for a week and focus simply on being active and doing great things for my body. This weekend I got something even better when my Oakley family rolled in to town for the Muscle Milk Fitness Retreat on Miami Beach. Better because anything you do with friends creates life long memories and bonds!MuscleMilkRetreatAs with all things Miami the venue was gorgeous at the Shore Club, Muscle Milk had out plenty of drinks, towels and a smoothie bar!! While everyone was dressed in some of the great new Oakley Women’s gear and of course their sport sunglasses.

Joyful. Sore. Invigorated. Ouch. Bliss. Pain….a day of working out with world class athletes combined with marathon training is everything my mind desired and pushed my body to great new limits!
YogAthleta instructor/owner Cat Haayen (me on the right in black) right before she started to really kick our booties in to gear!! Cat has a distinctive style that is meant for athletes. It focuses on loosening up important muscles that are often tight and on creating strength via an athletic style of yoga.

After that class we took a break for the smoothie bar and then headed straight back to “Train Like An Olympian” with Paul Hinicker who is Gretchen Bleiler’s trainer! I am super excited to bring you a short video soon on all of the moves we did as many were new to me. They were absolutely difficult and yet told geared towards making all of your movements stronger in any sport.
That’s 4 time Ironman champ Chrissie Wellington in black on the fart left…yes of course I was sneaking pictures of her being a total normal human being. Truly she is a joy to be around because she seems to simply be loving whatever she is doing at the moment. That might be one of the best things about this retreat…not only were you surrounded by like minded people, but everyone had great tips from their training and was open to ideas from others.

As part of the day some of my favorite Oakley Athletes Erica Hosseni (surfer) and Amber Wing (wake boarder) took a group out on stand up paddle boards to partake in a great SUP Core class! You might remember that from my Laguna beach trip.
Unfortunately it was an unusually rough water day on Miami Beach, so the crew had a little trouble getting out or doing the exact workouts desired. BUT of course this adventurous crew didn’t care and simply enjoyed trying something new.

After this there was another workout, but my bootie was already feeling sore and I wanted to make sure I could get in my New York City marathon runs so I passed…and instead they set up little spa stations! That’s right after you work it out, it’s time to reward yourself not with food but with caring for your body.

Have you ever done a fitness retreat? Did you go to camp as a kid?
Gratitude Journal
July 24
I am grateful for new friends and opportunities that create new ideas for enjoying a healthy life.

Taking Yoga Off The Mat

Since the 30 Day Yoga Challenge, I have continued to find time daily for moments to be still, unwind and stretch. It helped me learn so much, but I know that was only the tip of the ice burg…so here is Heather with more practical steps to extend your yoga beyond the mat.

You can practice yoga for an hour every single day for a month, a week, a year or a lifetime, but all you’ll really get from that is a physical practice. And if that’s what you’re after – great, you’ll get that yoga butt you’ve always wanted! But if you want to see how yoga can really change your life you have to roll up your mat and take your practice elsewhere.
YogiQuoteYoga isn’t just a physical practice – it’s a yoking of the mind body and soul (though I don’t like using that last word because it typically implies some religious affiliation). Basically yoga is a tool you can use to improve everything in your life. Using the tools you pick up in your day-to-day physical practice can drastically help you in other areas of you life outside the yoga studio.

Some ways that yoga has made me a better person are as follows:

1) Control: I tend to be a hot head. It takes a lot to truly upset me, but when my top blows it blows big time – we’re talking Mount Saint Heather (instead of Helens). I’d be lying if I said I’d never hit someone or shouted irrationally cruel things. It was only since taking yoga (and growing up a bit) that I find myself able to step back and take a deep breath before reacting. Who knew Ujjayi breath could help your personal relationships as well as warm up your body for an asana practice? Holler!

2) Discipline: This sounds like the first one – but it’s subtly different. Never in my life have I found myself as dedicated to something as I am to yoga. It was always easy for me to shrug something off before I found yoga. If I said I was going to get up early and workout it was not only possible, but most likely that I would slam the shit out of my snooze button and inevitably oversleep my workout. With yoga that all changed – it became something I couldn’t live without – and consequentially I realized that I slowly became more reliable. Having that dedication to my yoga practice forced me to have a dedication to other things in my life as well.

3) Self-Awareness: This is two fold – one) before I started yoga I would run into almost anything that was in my general vicinity. I had no balance, no spatial awareness and was pretty much just a human wrecking ball. Happy to have improved on all that since starting my practice several years ago. And two) I am more aware of how I talk to and interact with others. In yoga you hear a lot of teachers and gurus lecture on unconditional love. You can’t hear that daily without allowing some of it to sink in. Now when I’m stopped at a red light in the most infuriating stop and go traffic only to be held up by someone who has neglected to see the signal change, I take a moment and try very hard not to flip out. Maybe they just got a very important phone call? Maybe they’re having a baby. I’m more aware of how I relate to others since starting a daily yoga practice.

4) Pride: My yoga practice gives me something to be proud of. Not in a gloating egotistical way (I at least try not to show off so much anymore), but in a “who can I share this awesome thing with” way. I believe that there has been no one thing in my life that has influenced me more than yoga. Yoga is the one thing in my life that has truly changed me. And whether people change themselves through yoga, meditation or some other sport or hobby (like soccer or playing the bagpipe) I hope people find that outlet of change. The dedication I have had to yoga has improved me as a person – and you better believe I am proud of being a better person.

5) Essentially yoga has chilled me the F out: I just don’t take things as personally or as seriously or as intensely as I once did. That’s not to say I don’t feel passionately about things; but I do find that I’m able to just enjoy my life. It’s easy to plan the crap out of your life. To have every day, week and month for the next seven years all laid out – but yoga has allowed me to be happy in the now. One of my favorite things about yoga is savasana (duh) when I just get to lay there and be in that moment. I mean if you think about it taking at least 5 minutes a day to zone out after an intense physical practice is bound to have lasting effects on you – right?

I’m not saying that yoga is the one right thing for everyone, but it sure has made a difference in my life. It’s funny what you can accomplish when you let the philosophy behind yoga wander into your “real life.” I started yoga because I wanted to workout, now that I practice daily and have been listening to my teachers and gurus spit their sweet philosophy it’s hard to find aspects of my day-to-day life that aren’t effected by the practice.

Happy practicing and Namaste!

Heather CHeatherYoga
Heather Colvin is a writer turned yogi who has lived in Miami, Florida for the past seven years. She is an RYT certified instructor who believes that yoga should be approachable, challenging and most of all fun for everyone who tries it. She teaches at Green Monkey Miami Beach and Green Monkey South Miami. In addition to that you can find all Heather’s thoughts on yoga and life on her website and blog:

Do you find that your yoga practice has translated beyond the mat?
Gratitude Journal
June 14
I am grateful for learning to embrace the moments of stillness.

30 Life Lessons from 30 days of yoga

During the 30 days of yoga challenge, I kept waiting for some profound since of peace, love and light to overtake me and resolve all my issues. Turns out yoga doesn’t do that exactly, but it certainly provides many tools for handling all areas of life from work, to family, to PR attempts with more grace and less injury. 

yogiI was surprised to find myself craving that time on the mat after just the first week and I look forward to continuing my practice as I realize it’s about more than the physical strength I gained. Here are 30 Life Lessons from the Mat

1. Breathe…when it’s tough just breathe
2. Alternate from high intensity to low intensity
3. Standing still is not easy
4. Pull your shoulders back to stand proud
5. Tighten that stomach
6. Quality matters
7. Every teacher is not the perfect teacher, but there is something to be learned
8. Sometimes you need to do your own practice
9. It’s called practice, not perfection for a reason
10. You’re never too old
11. There is always time for things you want to do
12. Any space is big enough to connect with your inner self
13. Let your heart shine
14. Don’t compare yourself
15. Flexibility is about more than your physical muscles
16. Sometimes being still is the hardest workout
17. Smile it makes the difficult seem more fun
18. Appreciate your body for what it can do
19. Gratitude…have it for everything
20. You can get injured doing anything if you refuse to focus on the details
21. Be present
22. Focus on one thing at a time
23. We are all connected
24. It’s not all or nothing, it’s a little bit every day
25. Be willing to change to see change
26. Even lift shifts can have a major impact
27. You will fall because you try and because you try you will succeed
28. Don’t push or strain, instead just keep leaning
29. The goal is ever changing as you are ever progressing
30. Your body can guide you, if you are quiet long enough to listen

and for good measure “One week without yoga makes one WEAK”.

30 life lessons from yoga

What else would you like to know about yoga? How to include it in your workout? Explanation of the types of yoga? Love to hear from those of you in the challenge if you have continued with your yoga?
Gratitude JournalRunning_motivation
June 7
I am grateful for people who have creative solutions to problems.