Do you add flexibility workouts into your training routine? Flexibility workouts will help improve your mobility and keep you active and running for the long term.

Stephanieruns Fitness

November 11, 2018 Newsletter

Do you need flexibility workouts?

When I talk about flexibility workouts I know right away at least one person will tell me that stretching isn't necessary for athletes. In fact someone tweeted me this article this week. The article is called "Quite a Stretch: Stretching science shows that a stretching habit isn’t doing much of what people hope." A couple of weeks ago in my newsletter I shared a study that showed warming up can help prevent muscle soreness post workout. Basing our workouts on science is important but it can be confusing when there are multiple studies saying different things. I would hate for you to read the stretching article above and decide that you no longer need to have components of flexibility training in your training plan. Having mobility will help keep us running and active well into our old age. The key is the type of stretching and movement you do.

Let's go over what I think you should focus on for flexibility workouts. First if you're already doing flexibility workouts and they are working for you don't stop! Finding something you enjoy and that works for you is key in the sustainability of your training program. Remember not to long ago when we thought people with back injuries should lay in bed. Now the current guidelines for most back injuries are to keep moving. We understand that movement is medicine. Your body is designed to move and if we stopping moving our body as we age we'll lose that mobility. I would encourage you to focus on flexibility workouts that focus on stretching while moving.

I like to think of flexibility workouts in two ways. Workouts that will help me connect with my mind and practice mindfulness and stretching in motion. The first type could certainly be your yoga practice. Certain types of yoga will allow you to relax into poses, remove tension and connect with my mind. I think this mind/body connect is helpful for your overall stress levels. We know stress can affect training gains which makes it important to have that mind/body connection which we may not get in our cardio or strength training workouts. These types of flexibility workouts can also help us relax. Maybe you haven't been sleeping well or there's been a lot of your mind. Relaxing deep into a restorative yoga pose can help you get into a more relaxed state. Don't overlook the value of these workouts. 

I consider the other type of flexibility workouts to be stretching in motion. This is where you're moving your body to stretch and strengthen your muscles. Dynamic stretching, essentrics, yoga, tai chi for example. Moving your body while you stretch will allow you to focus on your mobility as you stretch. You can also use dynamic stretching as both a warm up or cool down, which allows you to add components of flexibility into your cardio and strength workouts. Essentrics for example is done in bare feet this allows you to focus on stretching all the muscles in your feet. As you know feet are the foundation for runners, having mobility in your feet will help make your running stride effortless, and more efficient. Our bodies are designed to move. There's strength in motion.

Bottom line, movement is key for mobility and the ability to stay active over the long term. I would focus on flexibility workouts that allow you to move your full body and add dynamic stretching into your warm up and cool down. I would also add in a flexibility workout to help with your overall stress level, especially if you are experiencing stress or have a stressful job. You can add in static stretching once you're warmed up but my preference will always be dynamic movements.

Weekly Challenge: Essentrics

This week I'm challenging you to try an Essentrics workout. Not many people have heard of the Essentrics workouts but I'm a big believer in it. In fact it's used by NHL teams, Olympic and elite athletes. It focuses on stretching and strengthening your muscles in the eccentric muscle contraction. The creator also has two books, Aging Backwards, and Forever Painless which are worth a read. Her books go over the science behind her workouts which I always find interesting to read.

This week I want you to step outside of your comfort zone and try a new workout, an Essentrics workout. Give this Introduction to Essentrics Workout a try. Wear comfortable clothing and remove your shoes and socks. Essentrics is best done relaxed, so don't force it. The first couple of times you try this workout it's a good idea to do it in front of a mirror so you can watch yourself. Don't worry if you can't get all the moves right away. Keep with it and you'll see improvements.

Essentrics is a workout that I believe can benefit everyone. In fact I have both my parents doing it and my dad noticed a difference in his mobility when weightlifting. Give this workout a try and tell me how it goes and what you think. If you have any questions send me a tweet or an e-mail!


What's the deal with Foam Rolling?

If you're a runner chances are you've heard of foam rolling but you might not know where to start. Foam rolling is a great way to massage your muscles and help reduce muscle tightness and tension. Foam rolling doesn't have to be complicated. Keep your foam roller in an area where you spend a lot of time in, maybe in front of the television. Start foam rolling at your feet and work your way up your body. Spend more time and attention anywhere that is tight or tense. As you start foam rolling more often you might need a more dense roller. You can also use a pvc pipe and swap it out with your foam roller for muscles that need a firmer surface.

Foam rolling will help increase blood flow to your muscles and to loosen tight muscles. Both of these benefits will help improve your running and aid in your recovery. You don't have to foam roll right after your workout. You can foam roll in the morning, afternoon or evening. I would encourage you to add foam rolling two to three times a week. You don't have to spend a long time foam rolling. Probably about ten minutes depending how your muscles feel will be sufficient.

A foam roller is an inexpensive piece of equipment that I think benefits all runners. Give it a try and let me know what you think.

If you're looking for a strength training plan geared for runners check out my Training Peak's store. Currently all my plans are on sale.

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If you're looking for help with your running and strength training I am available. Send me an e-mail at for more details and to see if I'd be a good fit for your training.


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Disclaimer: Always seek medical advice before starting an exercise program. This newsletter is not medical advice. Medical advice should be sought from a medical professional. Stephanieruns Fitness assumes no liability for any injuries or damages as a result of the above content.