Back in January I went to visit a personal trainer, Iain Grey, over at Nuffield Health in Paddington. I’d got in touch after he’d appealed on Twitter for someone to help him test out some stretches for use on his regular clients – someone who specifically carried a lot of upper-body tension. Enter moi *points at self*

We went through some stretches to test their efficacy (or not) and here are a few that really worked for me:

Figure 4: Lie on your back, take your right arm out to the side and bend your right leg over your left leg. Use your left hand to pull the knee down. Feel this in your glutes and chest.

Piriformis (um, it’s in the butt area): Lie on your back, put your right heel on to your left outer thigh (very important). Grab that heel with left hand. Use your right hand to grab your knee. Pull heel and knee toward you.
Neck: Sit on a chair, look down and to your right. Use your right hand to apply pressure to the back of your head.

If you’re anything like me and have tight hamstrings and hips, stretching and rolling out will help. I had a chat with Phil after this week’s first SITC bootcamp session and the two really work together: ease out the knots with massage and self-massage (STOP SNIGGERING AT THE BACK! I MEAN WITH A FOAM ROLLER), and stretch before and after a run.

Well, after practising the stretches in my session with Iain, I feel much looser and more relaxed. I learned something quite important, too – it’s easy to run through stretches and not really pay much attention to what they do for your body, but you need to pay attention to areas of tightness and tension, and ask yourself if the stretch is really working for you in that moment. Do you actually feel anything, and if so, is it good, bad or weird?

If you can get a professional to advise you, that’s great. If you can get a friend or partner to help add a little pressure when you’re stretching, that’s great too.

And if you follow Iain on Twitter, you’ll get 10% off… He’s cool, really knows his stuff, and has some wicked tattoos!