Today I wanted to overview the 5 best stretches to perform after running.
I always perform these 5 stretches after a run to prevent nagging injuries. Running can be a stressor on the body and strike damage to muscles and joints.
Notice I only say stretches AFTER running. Stretching before you run actually causes your muscles more harm than good. Dynamic mobility exercises are what boosts your performance before a run.
Check the video above for a general overview of the stretches and below for specific and detailed movements with pictures.
Pre-Run Mobility/Dynamic Stretches
1.) Windmill Kickback
Slowly move forward and touch the ground with both fingers keeping one foot planted and thrusting the opposite leg into the air. Switch legs and repeat for about 20 yards.
2.) Walking Toe Raises
Walk forward slowly and plant your right heel on the ground and raise your toes to the sky. As you plant your heel bend down and with palms forward sweep your hands across the floor in one fluid motion. You should feel a firm stretch in the calf muscle.
3.) Walking Lunges
Step forward with one leg, flexing the knees to drop your hips. Descend until your rear knee nearly touches the ground. Your posture should remain upright, and your front knee should stay above the front foot.
Drive through the heel of your lead foot and extend both knees to raise yourself back up. Repeat lunge on the opposite leg.
4.) Arm Swings
Reach both arms out to the side and begin swinging them towards each other acting as if you are going to hug yourself. Perform 15 of these.
Also rotate both arms forward and backwards 10 times each making sure to use full rotation of the shoulders.
5.) Leg Swings
Face a wall and grab the wall with both hands outstretched and at shoulder height.
Swing the right leg to the right side of your body extending to a reasonable height and swinging it back across in front of the body. Increase the range of motion slightly until you reach a desired height. Repeat 10 times for each leg.
Forward Leg Swings
Now turn to face the right bracing the wall with your left hand. Swing the left leg out straight and touch your toe with the right hand. Swing the leg back behind your body while pulling the right arm back behind your head all the way straightened out.
Perform 10 motions and switch arms. Remember for this it is opposite hand and leg, for example right leg left hand.
Post Run Static Stretches
1.) Piriformis Stretch
Start by sitting on the ground. Flex your abdominals and relax your shoulders and neck.
With your feet flat on the floor, lift the right leg and place the ankle on the opposite knee. Reverse legs and repeat for both sides.
For a deeper stretch lie on your back and pull the knee towards your chest. Do this twice on each leg for a 20-30 second hold.
2.) Hip Flexor Psoas stretch
Start in a forward lunge position and put your hands on your knees. Press down with your hands and lunge the hips forward until you feel a stretch in the front of the hip, groin and thigh.
The farther you lean forward the more profound the stretch. Once again hold twice on each leg for 20-30 seconds.
3.) Shoulder Stretch
Stand up straight and bend the right arm over your back and position it to where the elbow is pointing straight up into the sky. Grab the elbow with the left hand and pull down.
The harder the pull of the elbow the more intense the stretch. This will relieve tension in the shoulders. Hold for 20 seconds on each arm.
4.) Kneeling Hamstring
Drop down on your right knee and into the lunge position. Extend the left leg straight out to where only the heel is touching the ground and the foot is pointed upwards. Lean forward on the straightened leg as far as possible.
To make it easier put both palms flat on the ground on slowly move each hand forward until desired point. This will improve flexibility in the hamstring. Hold for 20 seconds then repeat for opposite leg.
5.) Quadricep Stretch
Grab your right ankle and slowly pull your heel up and back until you feel a stretch in your thigh. Tighten your abdominal and keep knees close together. Hold 20 seconds for each leg and repeat for opposite leg.
If in need of more support and balance find the closest wall or chair and hold on while you perform the stretch.
I hope these stretches have increased your knowledge of healthy stretching to prevent injuries. We overviewed the glute, hamstring, quadricep and shoulder areas which are all crucial spots in the body to keep stretched and refreshed after a run.
Your Friend and Coach,