top of page

Recovery After a Marathon: Top Hip Flexor and Quad Stretches

Updated: May 8

It's the "Oh my QUAD" moment trying to go down the stairs the first time after your marathon.

Or getting out of bed the next morning and feeling like you got hit by a truck.


You realize: Post-Marathon Recovery is REAL.

And you can feel the real-ness in your tight hip flexors and quads.


Bring on the gentle, frequent walks!

But it can take a moment to get....unstuck.


First thought that comes to mind: LOTS of stretching!

But this leaves you with...questionable results.


Then, out come the foam roller.

Followed by the massage gun.

(am I reading your mind yet??)


But some how, things just AREN'T WORKING the way you thought they would.


While these ARE all helpful...

passive tools tend to provide more momentary relief rather than longer lasting relief.


Let me *briefly* describe WHY while we do my top hip flexor and quad stretches together to help you recovery faster and better after your marathon.


Let's go!


TOP HIP FLEXOR & QUAD STRETCHES for RECOVERY AFTER a MARATHON

Circuit:

1-3 sets each // a mat & no shoes on!


UPWARD DOG with QUAD CONTRACT/RELAX

  • 10 Reps X hold for 2-3 secs

VARIATION OF WORLD'S GREATEST STRETCH

  • 5-8 Reps ea side X hold for 1-2 secs

1/2 KNEELING DYNAMIC HIP FLEXOR STRETCH

  • 30 Reps X hold for 5-15 secs, may pulse as desired

SIDE SITTING GLUTE SIT UPS

  • 5-8 Reps ea side X 1 sec hold at the top

How These Hip Flexor and Quad Stretches Help


UPWARD DOG with QUAD CONTRACT/RELAX

  • This is SMALL MOTION. By gently contracting your quads (lifting your thighs off the floor) and then releasing that contraction and allowing your hips to sink further into the floor, you are actively lengthening your hip flexor muscles and quads near they're origin (where the muscles start).

  • THE SECRET: you're using a neuromuscular stretch we use in the physical therapy world called "contract, relax" which is used specifically on guarding muscles.

  • The catch: do you have BACK PAIN? if you do, your back may or may not like you. Proceed with caution.

VARIATION OF WORLD'S GREATES STRETCH

  • This is another SMALL MOTION. By gently turning into the front leg, you're both mobilizing your hip joint into internal rotation (hello hip mobility!) while asking that back leg including your quads, to stay strong and gently activated in an elongated position.

  • Once your quads and hip flexors "understand" it's safe in this position, these muscles are far less likely to hold onto tightness for dear life.

1/2 KNEELING DYNAMIC HIP FLEXOR STRETCH

  • I have a love-hate relationship with this stretch.

  • WAYS RUNNER'S CHEAT: you get into this stretch position and then dramatically arch through your back and pelvis in an effort to lengthen hip flexor muscles. *sigh.* There's a better way. But it takes patience, set up, and coordination.

  • ACTIVATION REQUIRED: if you know how, activate your lower abdominals, specifically your transverse abdominus. (this was best explained to me with the cue: "try to bring your front hip bones together"). If nothing else, tighten your core. Followed by, gently contract the glute of the down leg.

  • Gently pulse forward, WHILE holding these contractions. You WILL feel the front hip flexor being to talk. Stay here. But remember: more is more. DO NOT think that a painful stretch is a better stretch!

SIDE SITTING GLUTE SIT UPS

  • The MAGIC: by actively using your glutes and hamstrings to help you sit up, you force their opposite muscles (antagonists), the hip flexors, to relax so they can contract.

  • something very similar is happening above with 1/2 kneeling stretch.

  • This is another example of your quads and hip flexors "understanding" it's safe in a long position, plus...you get a bonus adductor (inner thigh) stretch. and I promise, those are tight after your marathon too!

  • Get an extra stretch by actively squeezing your glutes

WRAPPING UP

The WHY Behind My Top Post-Marathon Hip Flexor And Quad Stretches

Our bodies are made for movement.

And movement is the language of your muscles.

This is why I always prefer dynamic stretching over passive stretching if possible.


(If You like passive stretching and it works for you, you do you, boo.)


But a big reason why endless "couch stretches" or standing quad stretches aren't providing you the long lasting relief you're looking for is that tight muscles are often trying to protect you...and themselves.


When a muscle becomes damaged (especially after running 26.2 miles at race pace), it talks to you AS LOUDLY AS POSSIBLE, trying to convince you to take it easy so it can recover.


How the muscles talk is typically through a sensation of tightness or stiffness to the point of being difficult to move to relax.

When the muscle enters this "stuck" sensation, we call this "guarding" in the physical therapy world.

The affected or injured muscle is quite literally guarding and protecting itself from further movement which it assumes is damaging at the moment.


One way we can circumvent this response is through dynamic stretching where we gently persuade the muscle with movement that it's safe to contract (and elongate) again.


...resulting in happier feeling muscles.

And a happier runner. :)


If you give these dynamic stretches a try, let me know in the comments below! I'd love to hear about how they went for you.

If you're looking for more MOBILITY type stretches, you might like my FREE RUNNING GUIDE.


If you'd like to try out a gentle post-marathon return to strength training circuit, you'll like this BLOG HERE.


Whatever you do runner...


Dare to Train Differently,

Marie Whitt, PT, DPT //@dr.whitt.fit


P.S. if you're looking for strength exercises that look like running so your strength gains will actually translate into running gains, grab my FREE STRENGTH GUIDE for RUNNERS HERE!



132 views3 comments

Recent Posts

See All

3 則留言


Nigel
Nigel
2023年11月14日

A lot of information here, thanks for sharing this. Although, I am still laughing at ‘Oh my quad’ 😂

按讚
Nigel
Nigel
2023年11月14日
回覆

Oh you’re doing that alright 😂

按讚
bottom of page