No time to stretch? Stretching muscles is a must for runners. There are just too many benefits and not stretching could result in injuries that might well cost you time and big physio bills – how boring is that!
Do these few simple stretches daily to maintain and increase flexibility.
Before you get going – read our article on warming up.
Pre-run stretches will dramatically reduce the risk of injury and you’ll perform better on your run.
Post-run stretches gives you the opportunity to lengthen the muscle and increase general flexibility. It also helps you recover and reduces the stiffness that you might feel the next day after a run
We suggest also stretching your upper body pre-run. You might try some circling of the hips, side slides, shoulder and arm rotations etc. But concentrate daily on the big leg muscles:
You can perform these outdoors or indoors.
The gluteal and piriformis – a muscle that lies underneath the glutes – can be a problem to stretch. You almost need to get in to a yoga position to get a good stretch but it is important that you do. Your glutes work very hard when running and not stretching can lead to sciatic pain.
The hamstrings are massive. They start up by your bum and run the full length of your thigh finishing below the knee, responsible for bending the knee amongst of things. They help control your body on landing (stop you falling forward!) and tight hamstrings severely impact stride length so it is important to keep them flexible.
Again, hold each stretch for 30 seconds and remember to keep your back straight.
Quads are super important for helping you drive along and work especially hard when running up hill.
Suggest at least 3x 30 seconds on each leg.
Calves work hard and they’re hard to rest so look after them. The calvf muscles are made up of two muscles:
The gastrocnemius (outer calf) and
The soleus (inner calf)
They take a pounding on impact helping to stabilise us and they obviously work exceptionally hard when driving off.
You need two different stretches in order to ensure flexibility in the calf area.
Stretching the gastrocnemius
Repeat 3 times or more if you are tight in the lower leg.
Stretching the gastrocnemius. The rear leg is the one that is being stretched.
Do not forget the other calf muscles. the Soleus. Stretching this is vital to ensure good power off and to also maintain that the Achilles tendon remains flexible as this stretch will also stretch the Achilles.
See the picture below. It is the front leg that is being stretched and you can move nearer the fence or tree for this one.
Repeat 3x 30 seconds but more if sore in this area.
Don’t forget to repeat these stretches post-run.
These essential stretches for runners will help you stay flexible and injury free. Good luck!