Olympian Nadia Power shares her stretching tips to ensure you’re workout ready!

Olympian Nadia Power is making sure we all get 2022 started off on the right foot as she shares her top stretching tips, giving us the necessary tools to prepare both pre and post our workouts, ensuring we stay flexible and our muscles are protected all year long. Be it wanting to achieve your New Year’s Resolutions, increase your serotonin levels or simply get a start on reaching some personal or fitness milestones – it’s important we prep accordingly when jumping into any form of exercise. With the help of a variety of expert essentials from McSport, Ireland’s leading fitness brand, Brand Ambassador Nadia shares her holy grail, professional approved tips sure to be a necessary addition to all of our active lifestyles this year.

From personal trainers to online workouts and Instagram lives, we are surrounded with options to get us all started on a fitness journey, however, we need to remember the core elements of prepping and cooling down when embarking on any form of exercise. As the old adage goes – Fail To Prepare, Prepare To Fail – and that stands true when working out, and in particular when it comes to properly stretching. Too many of us dive headfirst into new routines and overexert our muscles without properly preparing first, especially if some have taken a well-earned break over the festive period. This can lead to unnecessary pain, and in some instances avoidable injuries.

Olympian and McSport Ambassador Nadia Power knows this all too well. As a record-breaking athlete, specialising in the 800m, Nadia knows the importance of stretching out her muscles both pre and post taking to her flying laps. The one component that many tend to gloss over, stretching is an essential part of caring for our physical health, before and after working out, or incorporated into our routines. The benefits of such are absolutely endless, from improving flexibility, preparing our body, healing muscles after strenuous workouts, relaxing the body, improving achiness, recruiting our muscles while working out, and most importantly decreasing the risk of injury.

When speaking about the importance of stretching as an athlete, and also for the average joe of all fitness levels, Nadia says: “Stretching and mobility are important parts of my daily routine to help me stay injury-free and recover from each training session. A lot of people who are new to running may not think to stretch before or after a run, and soon find as they build up mileage they feel stiff or pick up niggles. It doesn't need to take up too much time, I usually find about 10 minutes before and after each run is enough. Usually, before I run I'll do some resistance band exercises, foam rolling and mobility exercises to warm up my calves, hamstrings and hips. Then when I get home I'll do a quick stretching routine and foam roll anything that felt tight on the run.”

Using a variety of McSport equipment including the Foam Roller (€14.95), Loop Band Pack (€4.05) and Spikey Massage Ball (€2.95) – all of which are part of the Hit Fitness Range exclusive to McSport Ireland, Nadia shares her top 6 stretches to ensure we are nimble limbed and ready to take on, and cool off after, our next session:

Exercise 1 Hamstring stretch:

Sit with one leg out straight and the other bent.

Ensure the sole of your foot is touching the inside of your thigh.

On the side of your straight leg, reach for your foot, holding until you can feel a stretch in your hamstring.

Repeat on the following side.

Exercise 2 Glute stretch:

Sit with one leg straight and cross the other leg over the straight leg.

Placing the sole of your foot flat on the ground.

On the side of the bent leg, rotate to look over your shoulder until you feel a stretch in your glute and hip.

Repeat on the following side.

Exercise 3 Foam Rolling:

Place the foam roller under any muscle on your leg, or any part of the body you want to relieve tension on.

Shift your bodyweight so as much as feels comfortable sits on the foam roller.

Roll it up and down the muscle until it feels looser.

If you find a particularly tight spot you can hold the roller directly under it until the tension slowly releases.

Exercise 4 Hamstring and Calf Stretch:

Reach one leg forward with your toe pointing up.

Lean down and reach towards your toes until you feel a stretch down through the back of your hamstring and calf.

Repeat on the following side.

Exercise 5 Clamshells with Resistance Band:

Place band just above your knees.

Lie on one side with your hips stacked and knees bent at a 90-degree angle.

Lift your higher leg up and down for 6-8 reps – This activates the glutes and hips so that they are ready for more intense exercise.

Repeat on the following side.

Exercise 6 Crab walks with resistance band:

Place band just above your ankles.

Walk side to side in a quarter squat position – Make sure to maintain tension in the band.

Do this for 6-8 steps each way – This activates the glutes and hips so that they are ready for more intense exercise.

When speaking about her partnership with McSport, Nadia says: “I've thoroughly enjoyed being a McSport brand ambassador over the last year. The team has been so supportive in helping me achieve my athletics goals and I love representing an Irish business like McSport. I use their products daily, from mobility equipment before every run, to weights and gym equipment during my strength training sessions so the partnership makes perfect sense for me. “

The full range of fitness essentials are available via www.mcsport.ie