Stretching is important to relieve tightness and potential soreness, reduce the chance of injury and improve flexibility and range of motion – all of which can help boost running performance. These eight stretches for runners were designed to do just that.
Anyone who runs knows that it feels good to stretch those tight muscles after logging a few miles. Some experts even recommend dynamic stretches before you go for a run, but after a quick warm-up. Time-crunched runners may choose to skip the pre-run flexibility routine, but shouldn’t bypass stretching as their cool down.
There are many recommendations of stretches for runners, but they all typically hit the same important muscle groups that work hard when running. Here’s a solid group of popular ones; hold each stretch for 10-30 seconds and then repeat on the other side, as applicable.
Stretches for Runners
- Calf – Lean against a wall with your arms straight, one leg forward and one back. Bend your front knee and push your back heel to the ground, elongating the calf and Achilles tendon.
- Quadriceps – Standing, bend your right knee and grab your right foot with your right hand. Pull your heel towards your glute, keep your knee pointing down and tuck the pelvis under.
- Hip Flexors – Step forward with your right leg and lunge down, bending your knee and placing your hands on your thigh or the floor. Tuck your left hip under and lean forward slightly until you feel the stretch in the hip flexors of the back leg (below the abs but above the quads).
- Hamstrings – Hinge from the hip and bend forward, elongating your spine and reaching your hands toward your shins, shoes or the ground. Try to keep your legs straight to elongate the hamstrings.
- Glutes and Hips – Holding onto a pole, fence or wall, cross your right leg over your left and sit back and down, bending the knees and pushing through your right hip and glute.
- Groin and Inner Thighs – Sit down and hold the soles of the feet together with your hands, pulling the feet in close to the groin and dropping the knees as far down as you can. With a tall, flat back, lean forward.
- Lower Back – Standing, hinge forward from the hip and place your hands on your thighs. Arch the back and drop the belly, then round the spine and hollow out the chest and belly.
- Arms, Abs and Chest – From standing, reach your arms overhead and grab your fingers or clasp your hands. Reach up and elevate the shoulders as high as you can. Then lean to the right; repeat to the left. Hold in the center, open your arms to a goal-post position, slightly arch your back and lift your chin.
Even if you don’t think of yourself as a “runner” these stretches for runners will help keep you limber and prevent future injury. Give ’em a try!