Stretching for runners

Stretching is one of the most repeatedly overlooked aspects of running and yet it can be one of the most important. What is the point of spending hours on the road, only to succumb to a preventable injury the week before a race, because you didn’t stretch properly? It happens, but you can prevent it with a good stretching routine.

There are two main types of stretches that runners need to know about:

Dynamic stretching, preferred by athletes as part of their warm up routine. These stretches involve movement and warm up major muscle groups, as well as sending a signal to your body that intense activity is on the way.

Static stretching is traditionally used as part of your cool down at the end of a session. These stretches do not involve any movement and are gradual elongations of major muscles, aimed at increasing flexibility and preventing soreness/injury.

Here we focus on static stretches to work into the cool down portion of your training sessions.

Stretching technique
Before we get started here are 5 key tips for great stretching technique: 

1. Stretching needs to be done gradually and for maximum benefit the stretch should be held for approximately 30 seconds.

2. Do not 'bounce' when stretching; this is an easy mistake to make and could lead to a pulled or torn muscle. 

3. Don’t forget to concentrate on your breathing while stretching and as you exhale – breathe out to reach further into your stretch.

4. In order to avoid injury do not stretch if you are experiencing any muscular discomfort or tightness.

5. Never stretch ‘cold’ muscles – if you want to stretch (as some runners do) before the main portion of your training run, only do so after you’ve warmed up for approximately 10 minutes.

1. Calf (back of lower leg)
Lean into wall and lift one leg off the ground
Lean into stretch
Keep leg straight
Repeat with other leg
2. Hamstrings (back of thigh)
Grasp leg behind knee
Pull leg in to chest
Slowly straighten leg
Repeat with other leg
3. Quadriceps (front of thigh)
Stand on one leg with other leg pulled up to backside
Grasp ankle and ease into stretch
Keep knees together
Keep upright posture
Repeat with other leg
4. Glutes (buttock)
Lie on back on the floor
Position one leg across the opposite thigh
Grasp leg behind thigh and pull into body
Repeat with other leg
5. Hip flexors (front of pelvis)
Kneel on floor with cushion under knee
Grasp foot and pull up towards buttock
Thrust hips forward and upwards
Stretch will be felt in thigh and across front of pelvis
Repeat with other leg
6. Adductors (groin)
Sit with back against a wall
Ensure backside is positioned as close to the wall as possible
Keeping an upright posture, gently press down on knees until stretch is felt
7. Hip and lower back stretch

Sit up tall, on the floor, with your legs out in front of you.
Raise your left leg and cross it over the right leg.
Keeping the right leg bent bring the left leg into your chest.
Turn your torso from the hip so that you can look over your left shoulder.
Repeat on the right.
8. Back (start position)


Kneel on floor
Fully drop chin to chest
Arch back upwards, pushing from shoulders
Relaxed breathing throughout
Finish position technique

From start position, slowly extend neck and look at ceiling
Hollow out back
Relaxed breathing throughout
9. Shoulder

Rotate your shoulders individually and together, forwards and backwards for 20-30 second each.
Pull your arm back over your head and gently pull the elbow down towards the back and hold
Repeat on the other side
10. Chest

Place the hands on the small of your back
Try to move your elbows towards each other behind your back
Ideally you should stretch the major muscles after every run but if that proves too time-consuming, stretching twice a week is a suitable target. Finally – make sure you mix up your stretching routines as research shows just using one form of stretching is not as beneficial as using a variety of stretching routines. Try different types of stretches for each of the key areas highlighted here, this will give your flexibility workout diversity. Also consider working in a yoga class as a part of your training week.


From: world running