Do you take the time to stretch before or after you run? Many people don’t, because once your run is over you feel like you have completed your task.
However, stretching is a really important part of exercising. After making your muscles move in the same motion for an extended period of time, you need to give them some time to recover.
Doing the right stretches that allow you to move your muscles in various planes of motion and prevent them from becoming tight can help you keep a good running form, increase your flexibility, and reduce your risk of becoming injured.
Here are seven stretches that every runner should do after their workout. These stretches will target your main running muscles along with some smaller muscles in your upper body and feet.
To do this, lie on your back and extend both legs. Lift one leg up and reach your hands behind the knee of the lifted leg. Gently pull your leg toward your body to feel a stretch. Extend and flex your ankle five times. Pull your leg further toward your body for a few seconds for a deeper stretch. Repeat this move three times.
This is important because the nerves in your legs are able to get caught up in your muscles and limit the range of motion in your hamstrings, which can lead to pain. Stretches like this performed regularly can help loosen the area and give your hamstrings the range of motion they should have.
Start in a plank position, lift your hips and straighten your arms to create an upside down “V”. Alternate pressing each heel into the ground while in this position.
This is an important stretch for the calves because it will let them move efficiently and reduce possible injuries such as shin splints, Achilles tendinitis, and plantar fasciitis. This exercise can also stretch your shoulders, which can help your during running due to arm swing power.
Get down on all fours with your arms under your shoulders and your knees directly below your hips. Place your right leg out to the side, keeping your foot flat on the ground and your toes facing forward. Sit back toward your heels while maintaining a neutral spine. Stay in this position for three seconds before walking your hands forward past your starting position. Do this ten times for each leg.
This set of muscles helps in hip extension and stabilizing the knees. Both of these are important in running and are used throughout the entire workout. Keeping these muscles mobile will help prevent injuries.
Three-Way Dynamic Quad Stretch
Get down on one knee, making sure your hips and knees are at a 90 degree angle. Put your hands on your left knee while squeezing the glutes in your right leg. With a neutral spine, slightly move your body forward, lifting your left knee towards your toes. Repeat this on the other side.
This stretch will help loosen up your muscles and reduce the tension in your hip flexors. Stretching these muscles in all of their ranges of motion will help decrease the likelihood of experiencing tight muscles.
Tibias Anterior/Superior Foot Stretch
Stand up straight and lift your right foot behind you slightly off the ground. Point your toes and put some pressure on the tops of your feet while keeping your pointed, while slightly moving around the tops of your toes. Do this on both sides. Doing this will help keep the muscles around the front of your shin flexible, which will give you maximum momentum when you push off of the ground. —that way it can help produce maximum drive as you push off the ground.
Lie on your back with both of your knees at a 90 degree angle and your feet resting on a wall. Rest one foot on opposite knee and gently push against the elevated knee for 30 seconds. This will help stretch the gluteus maximus which can become painful if it gets too tight.
Lie on your right side with your right arm stretched perpendicular from your body. Roll your left shoulder back just a bit so your shoulders are not exactly aligned. Bend your right elbow at a 90 degree angle. Then, using your left hand, gently push your right hand down toward your feet. Once you feel the stretch, hold it for 30 seconds before switching to the other side.
Because your shoulders are important to your form while running, making sure they’re flexible can give you more mobility and help you become a more efficient runner.
If you run on a regular basis, try these 7 stretches to make sure that you stay in shape and prepared to keep running. Your body will feel great after you take care of your muscles, especially if you are doing the repetitive motion of running on a regular basis.