Do you suffer from lower back pain? Sciatica? Or how about an imbalance in the hips, by possibly a tight periformis?
I’ve always used the word “checking”, not stretching, to determine if my muscles (and tendons) are ready for racing. Or high intensity sprinting in practice.
If I “check” and I am still “tight”, then I do more warm-up or mobility exercises.
The Elevated Pigeon Stretch
Here is a photo of me using the steeplechase barrier (set to 36 inches) with the shin resting on the barrier. (Regular hurdles are too flimsy!)
I do twist a bit side-to-side with my upper body, and I can back up the leg on the ground for a better stretch.
Here, I stretch my hip flexors, periformis, glutes, and hamstrings… just to name a few.
How long you hold the pose is up to you, but I hold it anywhere from 20-60 seconds each leg.
What you don’t see is if I put my LEFT leg on the barrier, there is a tightness that prevents me from touching steeplechase barrier with my shin. It’s about a 6 inch differential when I’m cold, but after a good warm-up, both hips and glutes have equal range of mobility. (No, I don’t have a massage therapist and table at every practice or race)
The differential was caused by a track collision with a jogger back in 1998, and I never fully recovered.
Video on the Elevated Pigeon Stretch
Here is a good explanation of this stretch from Men’s Health.
Lying Elevated Pigeon Pose
If you don’t have a steeplechase barrier or low box, you can always do this on the floor. I personally don’t like this, until I am quite warmed-up.
Photo Credits: DailyMail.co.uk
I’ve always felt hip strength and mobility is one of the secrets to faster sprinting.