Stretching for runners

Stretching for runners

Stretching can reduce the risk of injury, reduce muscle soreness after exercise, aid recovery and improve athletic performance through enhanced flexibility. Here are some basic running stretches.

All the basic stretches below concentrate on the areas of the body used during running.

When?

Stretch after the jogging part of a warm-up, or the first 5-10 minutes of a steady/easy run. Cold muscles do not stretch well. Also incorporate stretching into a warm down to reduce muscle fatigue and soreness. It is particularly important to stretch before intense sessions, e.g. sprinting.

What?

Always try to do the basic stretches below. If time permits, incorporate at least 2-3 of the more advanced stretches. Concentrate on areas of specific tightness or weakness. Remember to stretch the upper body as often as possible.

How?

The stretch should be gradual, building up to a feeling of obvious but comfortable tension. If the tension increases while holding the stretch then ease off. Do not bounce. Starting your stretches from the top of your body, e.g. neck, and working down can make the session easier to remember.

How long for?

Hold each stretch for at least 15 - 20 seconds. So long as discomfort is not experienced, stretches can be held for longer, up to 60 seconds. Slow counting (e.g. slow count to 20) is a good way to set a definite period for a stretch. Stretches during warm down can be held for slightly longer than during warm up, e.g. 20-30 seconds.

Basic stretches

 
Straight kneeCalf stretch - straight knee

Stand with the palms of your hands flat against a wall at eye level.

With one foot in front of the other bend your front knee keeping the foot flat on the floor.

The back leg should be kept straight with foot flat on the floor.

Leaning forward onto your hands push your left heel into the ground and hold that position.

Repeat for the opposite side.






Bent knee Calf stretch - bent knee

Stand with the palms of your hands flat against a wall at eye level.
With one foot slightly in front of the other bend both knees keeping your feet flat on the floor.

Using your body weight over the back leg, stretch the calf muscle. Repeat for the opposite side.













Hamstring Hamstring (back of upper leg)

Stand upright with one leg placed on the back of a chair or staircase.

Keeping your back slightly arched, lean forward towards your raised foot keeping your head up and looking forward.

Repeat for the other leg.













Bent knee with extended toes Calf stretch - bent knee with extended toes

Stand with the palms of your hands flat against a wall at eye level.

With one foot slightly in front of the other bend your front knee keeping the foot flat on the floor.

The back leg should also be bent but with your toes resting on the heel of your front foot.

Using your body weight over the back leg stretch the calf muscle.

Repeat for the opposite side.








Thighs Quadriceps (thighs)

Standing upright lift one heel off the ground towards the buttocks holding it with your hands.

Pull your heel into your buttocks with your pelvis tilted inwards tucking your buttocks under your body.

Hold and repeat for the other leg.
























Gluteals Gluteals (buttocks)

Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.

Cross one leg over the other, resting your ankle on the opposite knee.

Hold the bent knee and pull it towards your chest while lying back on the floor. Repeat on other leg.


Additional Stretches

Ideally you should include at least a few of these stretches into your routine as often as possible - this will increase your flexibility and may reduce your chances of sustaining an injury.

Alternate adductors Adductors (groin)

Sit with your back straight and knees bent so that the soles of your feet are together.

Pull the legs down to the floor with the aid of your leg muscles.
Place your arms against the inside of the knees to give resistance and try to bring the knees together.

Alternative adductors

Stand upright with one leg placed on the back of a chair, in front and slightly to the side of you. Keep the leg straight and foot pointing upwards.

Arching your back (so sticking your bottom out), slightly bend your weight bearing leg until the stretch is felt along the inside of the thigh and into the groin. For greater emphasis in the groin region turn the upper body in the opposite direction at the same time. Repeat for the other side.




Hip step 1 Tensor Fascia Lata (muscle over the hip bone)

Standing up, cross one leg behind the other, with the weight on the outside of the back foot.

Your feet should be at least 12 inches apart.

The knee of the back leg should be slightly bent.

The foot of the back leg should point towards the front leg so that the back leg and foot are rotated outwards.
























Hip step 2Remembering to keep your weight on the outside of the back foot, bend your upper body away from the back leg, pushing your hip outwards.

Reach with your arms across the body in the direction of the back leg.

Repeat for the other side.
















IT band Illiotibial (I.T.) Band (outside thigh muscle, runs from hip to knee)

Standing upright cross one leg behind the other, placing the feet together and keeping your hands by your sides.

Bend your upper body away from the back leg, pushing your hip outwards.

Repeat for the other side.
















Hip flexors Hip Flexors (front of pelvis)

Start in a half kneeling position with one leg at 90 degrees with foot flat on floor.

Tilt the pelvis forward tucking your bottom under your body.

Lean the body forwards over the front leg keeping the upper body straight and extending the hip.

Repeat for the opposite side.





Back Back

Lying flat on the floor bring your legs over your head.

Use your arms flat on the floor to keep balance.







Neck step 1 Neck

Gently tilt the head as far backwards as possible, then forward until it is resting on your chest.










Neck step 2Then alternate leaning it to the left and right, as far as possible.

Pull your chin in to your neck (this should give you at least a double chin!), then extend it out as far forward as possible.

Note: Do not rotate your head in a circular motion as this can cause injury.






Shoulders Shoulders

Place one elbow behind your head with the hand in the centre of the back.

Gently pull the elbow downwards towards the back with your other arm.

Repeat for the other side.


 

Search site