Super Quick Post-Run Rope Stretch
Whether you've just started or you've been running for a long time, you probably experience muscles soreness. There are many recovery techniques to help with sore muscles, and post-run rope stretching is definitely one worth trying!
Rope stretching is relatively new to me; I had seen some people doing it but I didn't know why and I certainly never went out of my way to do the research and check it out myself. I was interested, but used my other recovery techniques and recurring massage treatments to help me get by.
Trying new ideas is just part of the process of reaching peak athletic performance, so I decided to explore the idea when my coach introduced the idea of post-run rope stretching to me. Obtaining a rope was so easy and learning the movements wasn't hard. Plus, its a super quick addition to a cool down routine, taking anywhere from like 3 to 10 minutes.
What is Rope Stretching?
The first question that comes to mind is probably, "why do I need a rope to stretch?" Maybe you've been stretching fine since dance class at 4 years old. Which is fair, I totally get that.
Rope stretching, though, is a great technique for dynamic stretching. Dynamic stretching is the type of stretching you'd typically do in a warm up, because it warms up the muscles making them less stiff and doesn't hinder their ability to move quickly.
You can do dynamic moves without a rope, but having it gives you a little extra helping hand. Its technically called Active Isolation (AI) stretching because you isolate and focus on one muscle. Do your best to reach your full range of motion, then gently pull the rope to feel the stretch. The theory is that stretching your muscles too extensively can trigger the muscular protective reflex that muscles employ to prevent themselves from tearing. The rope stretching technique keeps everything controlled.
This technique also involves activating the muscle opposite of the one you are stretching which actually helps the targeted muscle relax even more. (Ex: hamstring stretch, quads contract.)
When Should I Do Rope Stretches?
You should do rope stretching before workouts, after workouts, and off days! Stretching is a healthy body movement for everyone, even if you don't do frequent extreme exercise. I know people who like to rope stretch before the workout to loosen everything up without slowing down their muscles. I prefer to do it after workouts as a part of my cool down.
Off days don't always mean do absolutely nothing. Take advantage of the extra time for maintenance and recovery on days you don't have a workout. Rope stretching is a great option!
Rope Stretches to Try
Stretch specialists can tell you everything you need to know about maximizing the effects of rope stretching. I learned movements from someone who helps people stretch for a living and it was interesting and helpful to learn some of the nuances of these movements.
These are the main movements I use now because they are great rope stretches for runners. They target hamstrings, quads, hips and glutes. Give them a try after your next workout! Soon you'll want to do them every single day.
More information at the end of this post on where you can get ropes.
4 Ways to Stretch Your Hamstring With a Rope
Rope on bottom of foot, coming up evenly on both sides
Raise leg up squeezing quads. At the top, gently pull on the rope to get a more full stretch and then slowly release down.
Range of motion should get higher with each rep
Starting with your leg up, bend at the knee
Squeeze quads like in the first movement to get to the top of the stretch and use rope to gently finish the stretch
Rope on bottom of foot, but then both pieces of rope wrap to the outside of your leg
This should rotate your foot out, stretching a slightly different part of the hamstring
Follow the same protocol as the first hamstring stretches
You guessed it! Strings of the rope now wrap around the leg from the inside
This should rotate your foot inwards and get the other side of your muscle
Follow the same protocol for earlier hamstring stretches
Rope Stretches That Work Your Hips or Glutes
This stretch loosens up your hips and your groin area/inner hamstring
Rope on bottom of foot and again the strings wrap onto the inside of the leg
Swing leg away from the resting leg and pull until you feel a slight stretch
Activate the outer hip and glute to bring your leg to the side and relax the muscle that you're stretching
Keep the down leg as straight and flat as possible, you might even feel it in the hip on the down leg's side
Opposite to the stretch above, the strings of the rope wrap around the outside of the leg
This is so you can pull the leg across the body, similar to the iron cross dynamic movement
The activated muscle will be on the inside of your leg
You should feel the stretch in your glute and possibly lower back
Again, try to keep the down leg straight and steady
Quad Stretch Using a Stretching Rope
In this movement, the rope acts more as an anchor for the still leg
Laying on your side, bend the down leg up (like a march) and put the rope on the bottom of your foot to hold it in place
Using your arm, pull on the stretching legs ankle until you feel the stretch in your quad
Stretching Your Calves With a Rope
Another muscle to target as a runner is the calf. You can put your leg as you would in the first hamstring stretch. Keeping the leg up, pull on the rope until you feel a stretch in your calf and repeat.
You can also sit up with your leg in front of you (straight or bent) and try the same movement.
Where Can I Get A Stretching Rope?
There are many ropes out there that will work for rope stretching. My main advice is to avoid getting a stretchy rope- you know the kind that is like a giant rubber band. One, they're not as stable because they stretch a lot. Two, there is a higher risk that it will snap off back onto you and hurt you. Not ideal!
You can easily use a rope from any hardware store that is sturdy enough. Pretty sure I'm using one exactly like this one, so if you want more than one you can order a rope and cut it into many. Just make sure you don't get one too thin, probably no less than 1/4 inch thick.
Here are some other popular ropes for stretching. Enjoy your recovery!