Stretches for runners help to prevent muscle injury and muscle soreness. Medicals and sports professionals recommend stretching before and after every workout. Here are some of the best stretches for runners.
1. Quad Stretch
The quadriceps are the big muscles on the front of your thigh. Stretching this group of powerful muscles is essential for runners. You can stretch this muscle group in a standing position, by following these steps:
- Stand on one foot; you can lean on a wall or hold onto something if you need help balancing.
- Lift your foot behind you and grasp it with the corresponding hand.
- Stand up straight so that your bent knee points directly at the ground. You should feel a stretch across the front of your thigh.
2. Calf Stretch
The calf muscle cramps easily if not properly stretched; understretching or not stretching the calf muscle can also put it at high risk for strain and other injury. Here’s how you can stretch this muscle:
- Stand arm’s length from a wall; extend your arms and place your palms on the wall about shoulder width apart. Lean on the wall.
- Extend one foot behind you; press the heel down, and move the other foot closer to the wall.
- Lean toward the wall from your hips until you feel a stretch in the calf of the extended leg.
- Hold your calf stretch for at least thirty seconds on each side.
Over time, this stretch may begin to feel less and less intense. When this happens, begin moving your extended foot back further.
The lunge is a stretch borrowed from yoga, but it’s a very good stretch for runners. The lunge stretches the hip flexors, which are the muscles that allow you to lift your legs. If these muscles become short and tight, lower back pain can occur.
- Assume a forward lunge position, with the forward knee bent over the foot, one leg extended behind and your hands on the floor about shoulder width apart.
- Drop the knee of the extended leg to the floor. You may place a folded towel beneath the knee to prevent bruising or pain in the joint.
- Raise your arms above your head. Look at your hands.
- Press your hips forward and down.
- You should hold this stretch for at least twenty seconds on each side.
4. Hamstring Stretch
Tightness in the hamstrings, which are the muscles that run along the backs of the thighs, can cause stiffness and lower back pain. You should stretch these muscles regularly.
- Sit with your legs extended in front of you and your knees straight.
- Lean forward from the hips. Don’t round your back. Reach for your feet by sliding your hands up your legs.
- Reach as far as you can. If you can’t reach your feet, keep your back and knees straight and keep reaching, remembering to bend from the hips. Flex your feet to increase the stretch to the backs of your legs.
- You should hold this stretch for at least twenty minutes and then repeat.
Perform these 4 stretches to run at peak performance, without straining your muscles.