When it comes to reaching your running goals, it’s not enough to just log multiple miles daily. You also need to implement a recovery plan that can help your body rest, while readying it for the next time you lace up those sneakers. The type of recovery we are talking about doesn't involve vegging out on the couch with a pint of Häagen-Dazs, though (sorry!); it is more of an active approach that gets you moving through mobility and flexibility exercises, but isn't super intense or taxing on the body. Luckily, Nike has just what you need.
This week, the athletic brand launched "Reach and Recharge," its latest N+TC workout. Available for free on their handy Nike Training Club app and created by Nike Master Trainer Traci Copeland, this 30-minute dynamic series is designed to help runners improve their strength and balance while offering an active way to recover. (Not a runner? No problem. Copeland says any active person can benefit from these moves.)
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“It involves a lot of functional movements, so you are getting similar movements that you might get in a HIIT class, but it’s not as hard or intense,” says Copeland who suggests cycling through the series twice a week. “This is not your slower restorative practice, though. It’s active so that your body can recover faster and be ready for that next run.”
What to expect: a lot of lunging, squatting, twisting and core work, says Copeland. The result: opening up the body for better posture, helping to restore your range of motion for a better stride and giving you a tighter mind-body connection.
“I work with a lot of runners, and whether they are running 5 miles or 14, they all come in with the same body issues, including weakness in the core and tight hamstrings,” says Copeland. “In this workout, I make sure your core is covered, you work on lengthening the hamstrings as well as opening up muscles like the calves, soleus and hip flexors more.”
And she shared with Health five go-to active recovery moves a that are essential for pavement-pounders.
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IT Band Straddle Forward Fold
After a long run, your hammies can get pretty tight and this move works to stretch them out. "Folding forward with toes slightly inward activates more of the inner hamstring, rather than a regular forward fold which just hits the biceps femoris, which is the muscle directly underneath your glute," explains Copeland.
Planks are good for upper body and core strength. Try holding one for 30 seconds to activate your core, suggests Copeland who notes that a lot of runners fail to activate theirs which can wreck havoc on running. "If your core isn't activated, the hip flexors take over when you run, and that puts a lot of strain with every step you take," she says.
In addition to being a great core move, when you push down, you are working your triceps, " which helps with arm drive and efficiency," notes Copeland. Start in high plank, and lower your body into a push-up, keeping your elbows close to your torso.
Core Plank Twist Sequence
With this exercise, you'll hit your external obliques, which hits the core even deeper," explains Copeland. Plus it gets you moving laterally, which is a plane runners often ignore. Start in downward dog, with weight grounded into your heels. Move into downward dog split by raising right leg to the sky. Then move forward onto your hands bringing right knee to your right shoulder. Return to downward dog split, and then bring right knee to left shoulder. Repeat on the other side.
Chair Pose on Toes
This move is a great way to turn on the calf and soleus muscles. Plus your feet get in on the action, too. "Any time you are flexing your foot, you are stretching the fascia (soft tissue) underneath your foot," says Copeland who reminds us that foot dorsiflexion is key for runners. Sit hips back and rise up into Chair Pose with arms up alongside ears, hold for 30 seconds. Rise onto toes.
This is great for hip mobility. "Runners tend to have tight hips, so this helps open them up without putting too much strain on body like a regular pigeon pose where you are forcing yourself down," says Copeland. "When you are lying down, gravity is naturally opening up your hips." Be sure to do stretch both sides.
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