Stretching after a run has multiple benefits including improving your flexibility, cooling you down, and helping to combat any aches such as back of knee pain (sometimes called a Baker’s cyst), which is common among runners. Contrary to popular belief stretching before a run isn’t recommended by experts as stretching out cold muscles can be harmful as they are more likely to be strained or torn when not warmed up first. Here we go through some simple stretches that you can do after every run.
Top 5 Post-run Stretches to Completely Stretch out your Body
The most important areas to stretch out after your run are your quads, hamstrings, calves, back and hips. Doing this will improve your flexibility and give you immediate satisfaction following your run. Make sure you don’t push yourself too hard though and stop the stretch as soon as you experience pain.
1. Hamstring Stretch
Place your hands on your hips and put your left leg in front of you with your toes pointing toward the sky. With this left leg kept straight, bend your right leg and bend your body forward towards your straight left leg (making sure you keep your back straight). Hold this for 15 seconds and then repeat with the alternate leg.
2. Quad Stretch
Lift your left leg and grab your foot. With your knees kept together and your body straight, pull the heel of your foot towards your left buttock. You will feel a nice stretch in your left thigh. Hold for 15 seconds and then repeat on your right leg.
3. Hip Stretch
Now onto your hips. This stretch is influenced by a yoga position and it is well worth thinking about taking up yoga as it helps to combat some of the negative side effects of running.
Begin by sitting on the floor with the bottoms of your feet together. Then, take your ankles in your hands, straighten your back and take a deep breath in. Next, fold your body forward starting from your hips releasing your breath as you go. For a more intense stretch, you can continue to walk your hands forward. Hold this for one minute.
4. Calf Stretch
Start by placing both hands on a wall. Then step your left foot back into a lunge whilst bending your right leg at the same time (make sure you keep your left leg straight). As you lean into the wall keep your left heel flat on the floor to ensure the stretch. You can make this stretch more intense by placing your feet further apart. Hold this for 15 seconds and then repeat on the other leg.
5. Back Stretch
It is important to think about your back health after running as this can take quite a hammering, this simple stretch will go a long way to keeping your back happy.
Start by lying on the floor with both of your feet flat to the ground with your knees facing upwards. Then pull up your left knee to your chest, keep pulling in until you feel a stretch down in your lower back. Hold this position for 15 seconds before repeating with the opposite knee, and finally both knees together.
Stretching Machine – how does it work?
If you are running very frequently, you might want to think about investing in a stretching machine. These are a particularly good option if you are new to stretching and want a little helping hand as they help to reduce the risk of over-stretching. It can be a real challenge to know exactly how to stretch out each muscle group and a stretching machine does that for you, as well as letting you know how long to stretch for and when to relax.
With this Complete Guide to Stretching for Runners, you will keep your body happy, flexible, and be able to practice your favorite sport to the best of your ability. Properly stretching out these key areas of your body is essential after running and will go a long way to improving your flexibility and reducing the risk of injuries.
A great option for completing your stretches is through the use of a Stretching Machine. These clever devices can assist with your stretching routine and make sure you don’t over exert yourself. Whatever you decide, be sure to make post-run stretches a part of your routine that you never skip.