“A good goal and good exercise have one thing in common: Both require one to stretch”
Peanut butter and banana. Lennon and McCartney. Hockey and Doc Emrick. Some things go together well. In addition to these combos, one more of my personal favorites is Running and Stretching.
When people tell me they don’t stretch after running (or working out in general) I really have no words. Just the expression on my face, which is basically a horrible blank stare with a hint of disbelief. “I know what you just said but I don’t understand because it’s so crazy…so maybe I didn’t actually hear anything.” That sort of reaction.
Then, when I come out of my shock coma, I find the words to tell said offender they need to stretch.
Now, I’m not one to tell people what to in life. I’m also not so arrogant that I think I know what’s better for someone’s body than they do. But I stand by this statement as one that’s applicable to all runners: You need to stretch after a workout. You make time to get in the miles, make time to give them some TLC.
If you’re looking for a quick stretching routine or aren’t really sure where to start, don’t worry – I got ya! Below are the five essential stretches for runners.
1. Standing Quad Stretch
Basic, simple, easy. If you need to hold onto a chair, brace yourself on the wall or something as a balance check, go for it. Otherwise, use it as an opportunity to practice balance.
2. Standing V-Stretch
This one is great for a full stretch and it’s versatile – just slight changes to your weight distribution, hands/arm placement and angle of your feet to hit different muscles and get a nice, satisfying stretch.
Example Rotation: Stand in a V with feet facing forward. Bend at the waist, straight down. You’ll feel a nice stretch along the back of your legs up to your glutes.
Then, angle your left foot so it’s pointing left, reach left and shift your bodyweight left. Now, you’ll primarily feel the stretch in the inner part of your left leg.
Finally, take your right foot and point it into the same direction of your left, then shift your arms so one is on either side of your left leg. Now the stretch is hitting your left quad and right calf/hamstring.
3. Hip Flexor Stretch
Often called “the runner stretch” this one hits a hard-to-reach, yet incredibly important area for runners. Hip flexors go through a lot and are very injury-prone, especially for runners who don’t have strong legs or are newer to the sport.
Bonus: This is another one you can modify to feel slightly different stretches and based on your balance – you can keep your back knee off the ground or on it, if needed.
4. Seated Hamstring Stretch
If it first you can’t reach your toes, just keep at it – gently. It’s very easy to want to push this stretch past the point of comfort or even pain.
Remember: Stretching should never be painful.
5. Seated Glute Stretch
Your biggest muscle deserves a good, deep stretch after a hard run. Be careful you’re not twisting or putting too much pressure on your knee. You can vary this stretch by doing it standing or seated in a chair.
These are just my top 5; there are a ton of additional stretches I do post-run and depending on the type of running workout. And I know there are more good ones out there. What are your favorites? Comment below or tweet them to me @runlikeagirl311 on Twitter.
If you like this post, please share it with fellow runners on Facebook and Twitter.