It’s easy to slack off and hit the shower after a tough run, but neglecting to stretch can have huge repercussions, especially when you’re logging serious miles.
It took me a while to make post-workout stretching a part of my routine. I have never been a fan of it and for a very long time. But I changed my ways once I got serious about running.
During my fitness journey, I learned that regular stretching could help alleviate many of the issues that are common among runners, such as back pain and knee pain—issues I was battling with for a long time.
The Importance of Stretching
Stretching is one of the most overlooked aspects of running; it’s also one of the most vital. The range of motion, mobility, technique, and injury risk are few things affected by stretching.
For instance, hip tightness can cause more than just stiffness; it can also increase your risks of knee issues, lower back pain, shin splints, Achilles tendonitis, and IT band syndrome.
Stretching the right way—doing stretches that move your muscles in various planes of motion while building both flexibility and mobility throughout the body—can help improve your running form, increase your range of motion, and reduce the risk of injury.
Today I’m going to share with you eight essential stretches that you should be doing after hitting the pavement, treadmill, trail, or anything in between.
The Fallacy of Pre-Workout Static Stretching
Plenty of research has looked into the effects of pre-training static stretching and found a negative rather than positive impact on endurance, strength, and explosive performance, especially when the stretch is held for longer than 30 seconds—your classic high school static stretching.
More research has also revealed that pre-workout stretching has little to no impact on injury prevention. Check the research here.
How to Stretch
When you should be stretching is after a run, when your muscles are warm, and the risk of tearing a muscle and injury is low. Here’s how to make the most out of it:
- Stretch in a focused and slow manner, holding each stretch for 30 to 60 seconds.
- Avoid bouncing or making jerking motion while stretching. This is a common mistake that could result in a pulled or pulled muscle.
- Focus on your breathing. Breathe out to further release into the stretch, letting go of any tension in the muscle.
- Stretch gradually to the point of discomfort, but not one bit beyond the pain zone.
What to Stretch?
Don’t you know which muscles you need to stretch? Here they are:
- The hamstrings—the muscles located on the back of your thighs.
- The quadriceps—the muscles at the front of your thighs.
- The hip and the muscles around it, such as the gluteals, the lateral rotator, the adductors group, and the iliopsoas.
- The calf muscles.
- The upper body and lower back, too. That includes your arms, neck, chest, and upper back muscles.
The Basic Runners Stretch Routine
In today’s post, I’m outlining seven stretches you need to do after hitting the streets. These target all of your main running muscles
1. The IT Band Stretch
Stand tall with your legs together, then place your left leg behind your right leg, both feet flat on the floor, toes pointing forward and, legs straight
Next, while keeping both legs straight; lean your hips towards the left side and reach your right arm overhead and to the left. You’re doing this the right way once you feel the stretch down the outside of your right leg and around your hip.
Hold the stretch for 30 to 45 seconds, then switch sides.
Still looking for a deeper stretch? Place your feet farther apart while bending the front knee and keeping the back straight the entire time.
2. The Low Lunge
Step your right foot forward in a runner’s lunge, drop your left knee and release your back foot. Make sure your right knee is bent to 90 degrees, and left knee on the ground.
Next, while engaging your core, draw your right hand up onto your right thigh, then hold the stretch for 45 to 60 seconds.
3. The Lying Hamstring Stretch With Cord
Lay down on your back, upper body relaxed.
Next, while keeping your left leg straight, pull the right one toward your chest, then loop a chord around it. Next, push away with the foot, gently pulling the leg toward the ceiling. You should feel a light stretch higher up in the hamstring.
Make sure to keep both knee straight, with the opposite leg flat on the floor
Hold for 30 to 45 seconds, then repeat with the opposite leg.
4. The Hamstrings Stretch
Sit on the floor, with the right leg extended in front, then bend the left leg at the knee and position its sole so that it rests against your right thigh, touching the top part of your right leg, if possible. Next, bend at the waist as far as possible, then extend your arms and reach forward over the right leg.
Lean forward over the straight leg from your hips and reach for your knee, shin, or ankle until you feel a stretch in your hamstring
5. The Standing Quadriceps Stretch
Stand tall, feet together and core engaged. Next, while balancing on the left leg, bring your right heel up, then gently pull it toward the right flat, then hold the right ankle and keep your knees together.
Make sure to stand straight and do NOT lean forward or sideways.
Hold on to something for balance if you feel wobbly.
6. The Piriformis Stretch
Lie on your back, both knees bent at 90 degrees.
Lift the left leg off the ground toward your chest until you feel the pull in the pelvis, then place your ankle on top of your right knee.
Hold the pose for 30 to 45 seconds, then slowly release the left leg back to the floor, straight the right leg, and switch sides.
7. The Groin Stretch
Sit down on the floor, with your legs in front of your, soles of the feet together and close to your body.
Keep your back straight while bringing your feet closer to your body to intensify the stretch.
While keeping the back straight and core engaged, hold your feet with both hands, then allow for your knees to fall toward the ground. Next, slowly lean forward pushing the knees toward the floor.
For more challenge, apply mild pressure on the inner thigh by pressing gently on the knees with both elbows towards the ground.
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There you have it. The above stretches are the must-do exercises you need to do after every run in order to improve your flexibility and reduce the risk of injury. The rest is just gravy.
Please feel free to leave your comments and questions in the section below.
Thank you for dropping by.
Keep Running Strong.