A shoulderstand is the most active variation of leg elevation.
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Sore and stiff leg muscles can plague sprinters and distance runners alike. Taking time after your workout to ensure recovery takes effort, but is worth the five minutes to see improvement rather than setbacks. Elevating the legs above the heart after a proper cool-down and stretch enables blood to recirculate, allowing the body to enjoy the benefits of your workout and to get back on the track more readily.
Vary Your Elevation
There are three basic ways to elevate the legs. The first is called legs up the wall. This variation can create a stretch down the hamstrings as well as a release of lactic acid. To move into legs up the wall, bring your hips against the wall and bring your feet skyward. A second option is a half shoulder stand.
Half shoulder stand uses the same motion of legs up the wall but can be done anywhere. It is a bit more active since it does not rely on the wall for support. To come into your half shoulder stand, lie on your back and bring your legs skyward.
A final variation is a shoulder stand. To come into a full shoulder stand, start on your back. Bring your legs up overhead and bring the hands up to support your lower lumbar spine. From here, bring the legs skyward supporting the weight of the body through your forearms. Each of these variations should be held for one to two minutes. Legs up the wall and half shoulder stand are most beneficial if held for three to five minutes.
Understand Leg Elevation
As a runner, elevating the legs after a workout creates a blood inversion. It works to remove stale blood that creates that familiar soreness you might feel after a strenuous workout, which will minimize recovery time and effort in the legs. Reversing the blood flow back toward the heart ultimately makes room for new blood to circulate.
Make it a Priority
Lactic acid begins to build in the muscles when oxygen becomes scarce. When aerobic activity induces a respiration rate that cannot bring oxygen fast enough into the body, the anaerobic system kicks in. This system helps to produce lactate, enabling your body to keep functioning at its peak. This commonly happens during strenuous periods of exercise, such as sprinting. After this period, lactate or lactic acid can stand still and cause muscles to become sore and stiff. Moving this lactate around is essential to an expedited recovery.
Incorporate Elevation to Increase Circulation
Lactate is the body's fighting power against being overworked. It signals muscles to slow functioning in order to protect against strain and injury. It is released at in the largest quantities when your muscles use anaerobic functioning to resist heightened aerobic activity. The release of lactate is most concentrated for athletes like sprinters pushing these limits for short intervals of time. Elevating the legs is especially beneficial for these athletes with the greatest potential for lactate build up and thus, the greatest need to recirculate the blood.