I’m a runner – what stretches are good for me?
One of the key parts to a successful run is a successful stretch, both before and after you run. Runners who run on a routine basis can benefit greatly from stretching! Generally speaking, stretching is broken up into two categories, which we’ve discussed in more detail in a separate post here.
- Dynamic stretching, also known as active stretching, involves stretching your muscles while moving. Often, dynamic stretches can be performed at the start or your run, making them easily integrated into your activity – so there are no excuses!
- Static stretches involve holding the body in a certain position so you target a particular muscle group. These are excellent for increasing flexibility and athletic mobility and can be done any time of the week. Ideally after a hot shower or once you’re warmed up to get the most out of it.
Dynamic and static stretching both bring benefits to the world of running and general athletics. Dynamic stretches can help to boost athletic performance before races and intense bouts of training.
Static stretches can help increase flexibility if performed correctly. Flexibility is a key ingredient in the recipe for athletic success.
Let’s have a look at some stretches that, if you’re a runner, will help your performance during both training and competition! We’ll show you ten total, some of which are dynamic and some of which are static (don’t worry – we’ll tell you which is which).
High Knees –
Stretching the inner thighs, the gluteal muscles, and the hip flexors, this dynamic stretch is performed while running. All you need to do is increase the height of your knees as you run at a slightly shortened stride. Ideally, you’ll want to boost your knees around hip level. Repeat 8-10 times on each leg.
Butt Kicks –
Butt kicks are a dynamic stretch that gives your quadricep muscle group a sharp and effective workout. They’re easy to perform – simply bring your heels to your butt as you run at a slightly shortened stride. Repeat 8-10 times on each leg.
Straight Leg Flicks –
Straight leg flicks give your hamstring muscles and upper calf muscles a great stretch. This dynamic stretch is performed while running, by kicking your legs out in front of you, one at a time. Try to extend your leg as close to your torso as possible for the optimal dynamic stretch. Repeat 8-10 times on each leg.
These are a go-to dynamic stretch for explosive runners, such as sprinters or hurdlers, but will also get you going for longer runs. Jumps work your calf muscles, quad muscles, and hamstring muscles. Repeat 8-10 times.
This exercise is a form of a dynamic stretch that effectively stretches and strengthens the muscles of your ankles, hips, and thighs. You want to push off of one foot and aim for distance rather than height. You’ll alternate feet, performing this stretch for several repetitions. Repeat 8-10 times on each leg.
Hip Openers –
This exercise, as you guessed, target the muscles around the hips, as well as the muscles of the inner thighs. Place your hand on a firm surface such as a wall to balance yourself, keep one foot on the ground, lift your leg off the ground, then bend your knee and rotate your leg outwards or inwards. Rotate outwards and inwards, alternating legs. Repeat 8-10 times on each leg.
Upper Body Rotation –
Rotate your body/torso to the left and right. If completing in standing, keep your hips facing forwards. This stretch targets your upper and lower back, along with your abdominal and oblique muscles. Repeat 8-10 times.
- Glutes Stretch –
This static stretch is an effective way to stretch your glute or butt muscles, it can be done in sitting or lying down, I tend to teach it lying down in the clinic. Lay on a flat surface starting with both knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Place your right ankle over your left knee and bring your left leg closer towards your body. You can hold around your left thigh to help increase this stretch. You will feel a stretch in the right-sided glut. Alternate legs and feel the effectiveness. 5 x 20 sec hold, repeat on each leg.
Hip Flexor Stretch –
Standing up, with left foot in front of the right (step-standing). Push your hips forwards and feel a stretch at the front of the right hip. Hold for the 20-30 seconds and repeat on the other leg. This one’s easy to do when you’re standing to wait for something e.g. for the kettle to boil in the kitchen. 5 x 20 sec hold, repeat on each leg.
The primary quadricep stretch is simple and effective. Performed as a static stretch, simply balance on one foot, while pulling your other foot to your butt. Hold for around thirty seconds. 5 x 20 sec hold, repeat on each leg.
Stretching is the master tool in a runner’s toolbox; it can improve your movement control and flexibility, both of which are responsible for enhanced running performance. Dynamic stretches are best used before you compete or train. Static stretches are best used if incorporated into a daily stretching routine. They’ll increase your flexibility and have your muscles feeling unstoppable as you pound the miles away!
Feel free to contact us if you’ve got any questions.