4. Quad Foam Roller Stretch
Stretching your quads is vital, as they get adaptively short from all the sitting most of us do every day and are often under constant tension. To get this large muscle group back to functioning at its best, Williams suggests using a foam roller.
Lie facedown and with a foam roller under your right leg, right under your quad. Put the majority of your bodyweight on your leg, and roll slowly. Instead of simply rolling up and down, roll your leg from side to side too, focusing pressure on the tighter spots of your muscles. Switch legs. Continue rolling until this feeling is no longer painful. If that’s impossible (as it might be for some runners!), do it for at least five minutes.
5. Wall Hamstring Stretch
Our hamstring muscles affect the knee more than we think and can be the source of discomfort or pain.
Lie faceup with your left leg flat on the ground, foot flexed. Take your right leg and prop it up on a wall or table, or use a resistance band. This stretch should radiate down the back of your leg, beginning in your knee. Once you find the deepest point of the stretch, alternate in five-second sequences between contracting and relaxing the foot of your right leg. If you have greater flexibility, hold the ankle of your right leg and pull it toward you. Aim for 10 to 15 rounds of five-second holds, and continue if you still feel tight. Repeat with your left leg.
6. Straight-Leg Raise
Easy strengthening exercises, like leg raises, put little to no strain on your knee but also activate and strengthen quadriceps.
Lie faceup with one knee bent and the other leg the ground in front of you. Lift your straight leg up approximately one foot, rotating your leg outward (the entire leg rotates outward, so toes point on a diagonal instead of straight up to the ceiling). Do 3 sets of 10 to 15 reps, alternating legs. As you get stronger, add ankle weights up to 10 pounds.
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