Running stretches help keep your muscles supple and flexible, but there’s a little more to it than just touching your toes.
You may already know not to perform any running stretches before a run but if you want to do some running stretches afterwards, walk until your heart rate and breathing have returned to normal, then stretch.
Some runners like to stretch for almost the same amount of time as they have exercised;
for others, running stretches are a chore that they would prefer to avoid.
Benefits of Running Stretches
You might think that running will give you strong legs, and it will up to a point, but if those legs lack flexibility it will not be long before you pick up an injury. To enable your muscles to perform at their peak, they must have a full range of motion, and that’s where stretching comes in. Elongating your muscles after a run when they are warm will help to improve flexibility and promote circulation. Every run should end with a stretch.
When to Do It
Stretching and warming up are not the same thing yet it’s common to see runners wildly stretching cold muscles at the start of a race. You’re likely to injure yourself if you join them. Only ever perform running stretches to stretch muscles when they are warm after a gentle run of at least 10 minutes. Your pre-run – and pre-race – strategy should be to complete a gentle warm up before you begin running harder, and leave the stretching till the finish when your muscles are warmed up.
10-Minute Running Stretches Before And After
The following five stretches before running and after should form the bare minimum that you do after your run. You do not need any special equipment to perform them – you do not even need to sit down. In fact, you can do them anywhere, so there’s no excuse to skip them.
Never bounce when you are stretching. You should ease yourself gently into each position until you feel mild tension, and then hold the stretch for 10-20 seconds before relaxing. Repeat the stretch for another 10 seconds. You can increase the time if you feel comfortable.
Stand up straight with your feet shoulder-width apart. Lift your right heel towards your bottom, taking care not to lock your left knee. To increase the stretch, gently push your right hip forward. Change legs and then repeat.
Stand with your feet parallel, about a foot apart. Keep your front leg straight and bend your back leg. Push your hips back and away from your front foot. You should feel a stretch in the hamstring of your straight leg. Change legs and then repeat on the other side.
Holding onto a support, such as a chair or desk, stand with your feet a stride-length apart. Your front knee should be bent and your back knee straight. Push your back heel into the floor to stretch your calf. To stretch your lower calf, bend your back knee towards the floor. Change legs and repeat the stretch.
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Place your right ankle across your left leg, just above the knee. Using a table or chair for support, drop your bottom to create a right angle with your left leg. You should feel a stretch in your right buttock. Change legs and repeat.
Stand up straight with your right leg crossed over your left and the outsides of your feet together. Lean your body to the left, shifting your weight onto your left leg. Change legs and repeat. You can hold onto a chair or table for support if you wish.
Quick After Running Stretch video:
Waiting to Exhale
Focus on your breathing while you perform it. Proper breathing will help to relax the body, increase blood flow, and aid in removing lactic acid and the other by-products of exercise. Take slow, relaxed breaths when you’re doing running stretches, trying to exhale. Do not forger forget to wear proper running footwear, it will help to keep your legs strong and healthy