Mountaineering Training | The Home Stretch
Categories: Mountaineering Fitness & Training
The Home Stretch is exactly what it sounds like: the last bit of your workout, the brief but essential stretching routine that will keep your muscles limber and strong. The routine starts at your toes and stretches to the top of your head and as far as your fingertips can reach.
UPPER CALF STRETCH
Starting position: Begin this stretch in the Downward Dog yoga posture: hands and feet flat on the ground, torso arched with rear up in the air, legs straight. If the Downward Dog position is uncomfortable, perform this stretch by leaning forward against a wall or another source of support, such as a tree or building, with arms straight and hands flat against the surface with legs straight and heels on the ground.
Movement: Place your left ankle above and behind the right ankle, just off the ground, so that you can feel an isolated stretch in your right calf. Keep your knee straight so as to isolate the gastrocnemius —one of two major muscles that comprise the calf. Hold this stretch for 20 seconds. Switch sides.
LOWER CALVES AND ANKLES
Starting position: Same as the Upper Calf Stretch — Downward Dog or the variation leaning against a wall.
Movement: Move your left ankle above and behind your right ankle as in the Upper Calf Stretch, with one difference: bend your right knee to isolate the soleus muscle in the lower part of your calf. Hold the stretch for 20 seconds. Switch sides.
Starting position: Lie on your back with your legs extended straight out in front of you. Rest your head on the ground.
Movement: Raise your right leg, with a slightly bent knee if needed. Grasp the back of your upper leg (hamstrings) with both of your hands and gently pull toward the center of your body until you feel a stretch in the hamstring. Hold for 20 seconds. Switch sides.
Starting position: Lie flat on your stomach, chin on the ground and arms at your sides.
Movement: Raise your right ankle by bending your right knee. Grasp it behind your back with your right hand and then gently pull toward the center of your body until you feel a gentle stretch in the quadriceps muscles (the front of the thigh). Hold for 20 seconds. Switch sides.
Variation: If lying down on your stomach is uncomfortable, do this stretch standing up. Hold on to a tree or other support with your free hand, if necessary, as you grasp your ankle and gently pull it toward your body.
Starting position: Sit in a kneeling position with your left leg forward. Your right knee and left foot will be on the ground, with both knees bent at 90-degree angles.
Movement: Imagine that your pelvis is a bowl of water on a table. Now, think of gently tipping the water out of the bowl from the back as you gently press the bottom part of your pelvis forward and the top part of your pelvis slightly back so that you feel a stretch in the muscles that connect the front of your hip to your right leg. That subtle tipping will activate the hip flexor in the front of your right leg. Hold for 20 seconds. Switch sides.
ILIOTIBIAL (IT) BANDS
Starting position: Stand upright near a tree, wall, or other surface for balance. Cross your right leg over your left leg.
Movement: Extend your left arm to the surface for balance. Bend your body to the left with your right arm extended overhead, as though you’re doing a variation on the Side Bender from the Daily Dozen. Your goal is to feel a deep stretch in your right hip extending down to the outer part of your right leg.
Variation: Try the Pigeon Stretch if you’re particularly flexible. Sit on the ground and bend your left leg so that the heel is near the right hip. Extend the right leg straight behind you.
Starting position: Sit upright with legs bent and heels placed together in front of you.
Movement: Gently press your knees toward the ground to feel a stretch in the adductors (inner thighs). Hold for 20 seconds.
Starting position: Lie down on your back with knees bent and feet on the ground.
Movement: Gently move your knees to the left, placing them on the ground, making sure to also keep your shoulders on the ground. You should feel a stretch in your middle and lower back. Extend your arms to either side, and move your head so that you are looking to the right (away from your bent knees). Hold for 20 seconds. Switch sides.
STOMACH AND CHEST STRETCH
Starting position: Lie on your stomach, palms placed on the ground on either side of your chest, directly below your shoulders.
Movement: Look up toward the sky, gently curving your back while supporting your weight, hands on the ground. This is popularly known as the Cobra pose in yoga. Hold for 20 seconds.
Starting position: Stand upright or sit on your knees with your upper body strong and straight. Lift your left arm above your head and bend the left elbow to stretch the left triceps muscles.
Movement: Place your right hand on your left elbow to support the stretch, gently pressing the elbow back until you feel the muscle stretching. Hold for 20 seconds. Switch sides.
Starting position: Stand near a tree or another support. Place your left hand on the support, with your left arm fully extended.
Movement: Without moving your feet, rotate your body to the right until you feel a stretch in your left shoulder and the left side of your chest. Hold for 20 seconds. Switch sides.
To finish the Home Stretch, take five full breaths. First, exhale and deeply Squat to the ground, arms downward. Inhale by pushing up on your heels, extending your legs, and reaching your arms to the sky. Take these breaths very slowly and deliberately — you’re bringing relaxation into all areas of your body at the end of your workout, setting the tone for the next stage peacefully and with a great workout behind you.
- John Colver
John Colver is a longtime climber, former mountain guide, and certified personal trainer with the American Council of Exercise. Colver introduced outdoor fitness classes to athletic clubs throughout the greater Puget Sound region before creating his adventX brand. Currently, adventX leads training programs in Seattle and Colver presents clinics on outdoor fitness at companies such as Microsoft, Boeing, the American Lung Association, and REI. Colver lives in Seattle, and is working on his second book, Fit to Climb - a 16 week Mount Rainier Fitness Program.
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