Hands up who is good about stretching post run, or post any exercise…not many? Most runners are self-confessed non-stretchers and almost all of us have been guilty at one time or another of skipping our cool down! And whilst it is easier and, let’s be honest more time efficient to “forget” to stretch and cool down properly, making time to do this after a run is so important and here’s why.
Why should you stretch post run?
Stretching following a run promotes blood flow, this in turn aiding in the recovery and repair of the muscles. By helping to flush out lactic acid and other waste products from the muscles it will help to reduce the soreness following a hard run. Stretching post run will also improve the flexibility in these muscles and increase the range of movement which will make you less susceptible to running related injuries such as strains, sprains and overuse injuries.
Key points on stretching:
- DO ease into each stretch, DON’T bounce or force it
- DO hold each stretch for 30 seconds and repeat twice on each leg following a run
- DON’T stretch a cold muscle (dynamic stretches are recommended in a pre-run warm up)
So what are the best post run stretches?
Standing quad stretch – standing upright, bend one knee, keep the knees close together and holding the foot behind – feeling the stretch down the front of that quad in the raised leg.
Hip flexor stretch – kneel on the ground on one leg with the other out in front at a 90-degree angle. Gently ease the hips forward and lean into the stretch, keeping the hips square and the upper body upright.
Kneeling quad stretch – Whilst in this hip flexor stretch if possible try to lift off the back foot for a deep stretch down the front of the thigh (quad), staying tall through the upper body.
Lying hamstring stretch – Laying on your mat with your head down, take one leg straight towards you (you can keep the other leg bent or straight). Gently ease the leg towards you feeling the stretch down the back of the leg, the hamstring. Just bring as close to you as feels comfortable and hold the stretch. It is also very effective to use a resistance band as shown.
Standing hamstring stretch – hinging at the hip, rest one heel on a raised surface and with the raised leg straight, gently lean the body forwards to feel the stretch down the back of the raised leg.
Sitting glute stretch – Sit on the floor, extend one leg out and hook the other foot over that leg, hooking the knee into the elbow. Sitting tall gently rotate the body to look over the opposite shoulder feeling the stretch in the ITB and glutes. You also have a stretch through the lower back.
Groin stretch – Sitting on the floor, bend both legs and place the soles of your feet together and let your knees drop to the side. Gently use your leg muscles to move your knees closer to the floor. To increase the stretch bring the feet closer to the body.
Standing calf stretch – Standing both feet on a step or ledge, keeping a straight back and tall upper body, drop one heel lower than the step to feel the stretch along the calf of the rear leg.
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