5 Essential Stretches for Runners
Who Needs a Good Stretch?
Whether you are an early morning jogger enjoying the first sun rays of the day or you're a highly disciplined and well trained competitive runner, doctors, yoga teachers, and athletic trainers all agree, stretching before and after your run can help your body speed recovery, reduce cramping and soreness, and improve performance overall.
Exercising shortens the muscles causing less flexibility and decreases range of motion over time. Taking time to stretch as part of your regular workout routine is an essential element in maintaining the healthiest muscles possible and even reduces your risk of injury. A truly healthy muscle is not only strong, but also flexible.
So here are a few key stretches that will help you target the major movers in your regular run. Just a few minutes of focused stretch time will make all the difference in your workout!
1. Downward Facing Dog
This stretch is great for opening up the backs of the legs and especially stretches the calf muscles.
1. Plant your hands firmly and extend fully through your arms and shoulders.
2. Lift your hips as high as you can and extend your legs from there.
3. Alternate bending one knee and then the other, extending the opposite heel down to the ground
2. Hamstring Stretch
This is an excellent stretch for the hamstrings as well as the hips and low back.
1. Extend one leg forward and bend the other knee in.
2. Drawing up and in through your core, reach forward to grab your shin, ankle, or foot.
3. If you can reach your foot, try giving yourself a little foot massage for maximum relief!
3. Wide Leg Forward Fold
Taking a wide leg fold can target the hamstrings, inner thighs, and hips. This stretch can also relieve tightness along the low back and sacrum.
1. Step your feet apart so your feet would line up under your hands if you arms were extended out to the sides.
2. Lift and lengthen your spine as you take a deep breath in.
3. Fold forward as you breathe out and extend your spine as far forward as you can.
4. Inner Thigh Stretch
Coming directly from your wide legged fold, you can easily move into this deep inner thigh stretch. This will work both legs in different ways.
1. Rotate your toes open by 45 degrees.
2. Shift your weight over one leg, bending that knee as deeply as you can.
3. Simultaneously, extend the opposite knee and even play with flexing those toes for an even juicier stretch!
4. Switch sides.
5. Runner's Lunge
This is the perfect stretch to open the hip flexors and the quads. If done correctly, you may also feel a nice stretch in the front inner thigh, as well.
1. Take a big step on your mat, front to back, as much space as possible.
2. Lunge into the front leg until your hands connect to the floor. (Blocks can be used to support yourself.)
3. Lengthen your spine at the same time you sink your hips forward.
Want to stretch with me?
Follow along with this free video as I guide you through some of these basic stretches and more!
Ten minutes never felt so good!
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