8 Simple Stretches For Runners

Use these stretches to stay supple

These straightforward stretches for runners are simple and quick to do – just one minute on each stretch will improve your flexibility and help you run better and avoid injury. Add this simple stretching routine after every run.

 

Inner thighs

stretches for runners photo by Joseph Branston

Muscles used Inner thighs (adductors)

Why do it? Your inner thighs help with lateral stability while you run. When they get tight, that can lead to knee, hip or back pain.

Technique

  • Stand with your feet twice your hip-width apart
  • Bend one knee until you start to feel the stretch on the inner thigh of your straight leg
  • Hold the position for 30 seconds before changing over to the other side

Watch points Don’t bounce your stretches. Hold the position and stretch more as the tension eases off.

 

Calves

stretches for runners calf photo by Joseph Branston

Muscles used Calves (gastrocnemius, soleus)

Why do it? Your calf muscles work very hard when you run, especially during hill and sprint sessions. Good calf flexibility will also improve your ankle mobility.

Technique

  • Stand with the ball of your foot on a weight or leg of an office chair with your toes pointing forwards
  • Ensure that your heel stays on the floor
  • Step forwards with your other leg
  • Repeat the move twice more: one set with your toes turned inwards and a second set with your toes turned outwards.
  • Hold each of the three positions for 30 seconds before changing over to the other side

Watch points Push your hips forwards to increase the stretch in your calf muscle.

 

Lower back

stretches for runners lower back credit Joseph Branston

Muscles used Back, side muscles (erector spinae, obliques)

Why do it? Keeping your back supple will help prevent running injuries.

Technique

  • Lie on your back with your knees and hips at right angles and your arms sideways
  • Roll your knees over to one side
  • Hold the position for 30 seconds before changing over to the other side

Watch points Aim to keep your shoulders and knees on the floor.

 

Hamstrings

stretches for runners hamstring credit Joseph Branston

Muscles used Back thighs (hamstrings)

Why do it? Tight hamstrings can lead to injuries in your ankles, knees, hips and back, so keep them supple to stay injury free.

Technique

  • Lie on your back on the floor
  • Keep one leg flat on the floor
  • Extend the other leg up to the ceiling
  • Grab hold of your leg with both hands and gently pull it towards you
  • Hold the position for 30 seconds before changing over to the other side

Watch points Don’t bounce your stretches. Hold the position and stretch more as the tension eases off.

 

Piriformis

stretches for runners piriformis credit Joseph Branston 7 piriformis2

Muscles used Deep hip muscle (piriformis)

Why do it? Runners frequently struggle with tightness in their hip and groin area. By regularly stretching it, you can prevent injuries and improve your running technique.

Technique

  • Sit on the floor with your left leg bent in front of your body and your right leg extending backwards
  • Lean forwards with your upper body and lower your head towards the floor
  • Walk your arms out in front of you
  • Hold the position for 30 seconds before changing over to the other side.

Watch points Ensure that you keep your hips level. The tightest muscles will stretch the most so where you feel the stretch might be different on the left and right side.

 

Cobra

stretches for runners cobra credit Joseph Branston

Muscles used Stomach and back (rectus abdominis, erector spinae)

Why do it? This is a great exercise to improve your posture.

Technique

  • Lie on your stomach on the floor
  • Place your hands next to your shoulders
  • Slowly straighten your arms and lift your head and shoulders off the floor
  • Keep your hips on the floor
  • Straighten your arms only to the point where you start to feel your hips lifting up off the floor

Watch points If you feel a pinch in your lower back, bend your arms slightly to prevent you from lifting too high and over arching your back.

 

Quadriceps

stretches for runners quads credit Joseph Branston

Muscles used Front thighs (quadriceps)

Why do it? Tightness in your quads can cause your kneecap to be pushed down on the thigh-bone or it can pull the kneecap out of alignment. Both will cause damage to your knee in the long run.

Technique

  • Lie on your side on the floor
  • Grab hold of your ankle
  • Pull your heel towards your bottom
  • Hold the position for 30 seconds before changing over to the other side

Watch points To increase the stretch, pull your knee further backwards.

 

Child pose

stretches for runners child pose

Muscles used Back, shoulders (erector spinae, deltoids)

Why do it? This is a great exercise to help you to release the tension in your back and shoulders.

Technique

  • Kneel on the floor and sit backwards onto your heels
  • Bend forwards from your waist
  • Aim to put your forehead on the floor
  • Reach forwards with your arms
  • Hold the position for 30 seconds

Watch points Don’t worry if you can’t get your head on the floor. The more you stretch, the more flexibility you’ll gain.

 

We’ve demonstrated five key stretches here:


Elizabeth Hufton

Written by Elizabeth Hufton | 73 articles | View profile

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