So I’ve started now to run again about once a week since this has been one of the most ridiculously beautiful, mild springs ever on record here in Northeast Ohio. What I’ve begun to notice though is that my calves are starting to bulk up a bit, as they always do, when I run.
I tend to get bulky in a lot of places. My quadriceps also get bulky, and basically anywhere on my leg can get bulky. What I try to do to counterbalance getting bulked up, which is the opposite of what I want – I want to slim these parts on my body down, not make them more bulging, is do exercises that complement the bulking without furthering it.
Let me explain. I do stretching types of exercises such as pilates and yoga. I also make sure I stretch my muscles out right after I work them to help keep them looking “longer” and leaner instead of the muscle bunching up and becoming larger.
Pilates is an excellent exercise regimen to pair with things like running, jogging and weightlifting because it helps to keep your body long and sleek, and keeps the muscles conditioned to stay that way. REMEMBER to always wear a great pair of shoes for running too – this is paramount for good form and injury prevention.
It also helps to tone them, and helps keep you more limber and lithe throughout your entire life. Being able to stretch and move around and stay flexible becomes more and more important as we age. It helps keep disease at bay and helps keep you mentally sharp and ready to spring into action at any time.
It also promotes good circulation and improved immunity (at least yoga does, I’m not sure I can say that about pilates, pilates are more of an appearance and strength exercise).
To get my calves nice and stretched out after a hard run, and to keep the muscles from cramping up, I do an extended downward dog. This is the inverted triangle pose that is a yogic posture. It’s excellent for loosening up the neck since you are inverted toward the ground and the gravity is taken off of you. It’s also excellent for the calves and the backs of the legs because it keeps them stretch out and warmed up.
I would only recommend doing this stretch after your run, not before since it’s a static and not dynamic stretch. Remember, dynamic stretches should be the stretch of choice before a run (this is the type of stretch where you are moving and getting the circulation going and the muscles warmed for action).