Stretching For Runners

Stretching for runners

Spring is upon us whether you like it or not. If your like me than warm weather = more outdoor running. Some of the readers out there have been enjoying the warm weather longer than others. While living in Maine, I can tell you that the warm weather is just starting to happen and we are happy to have it.

Now that I am running outside, I am running more often in general than compared to winter. This is actually a normal phenomenon. Once winter shows up the majority of us cease to exercise as much as we do in the summer. Why not? The warm weather just invites us to be outside and go running, bike, or even take a walk. The winter weather is cold and can be miserable to exercise in.

Today I want to review how to stretch for running. Stretching before and after (yes, after) a run can help you increase not only your flexibility but your overall recovery and performance while running the next time.

Generally you want to stretch everything below the waist when you are setting you plan on running. My way of stretching is to start at the very top and stretch every muscle possible going downwards. Let’s start at the waist and go down.

Start by stretching your oblique area. Stand straight and raise one arm and try to bring it to the opposite side.

Stretching your oblique

Pic Cred: http://www.runpals.com/abs-stretch.html

Next go down to your legs. Start with the simple quadriceps stretch. Stand straight and bend your leg backwards and hold the top of your foot. Make sure your knee is not sticking out. You can keep your balance by holding onto the wall or something stable.

quadriceps stretch for running

Pic Cred: http://www.exrx.net/Stretches/Quadriceps/Standing.html

Next are your hamstrings. These are very essential for any type of exercising. Your hamstrings can very easily get tight and sore before you know it. To prevent that, stretch them like the picture below. Simply stand straight and try to touch your toes. Do not over stretch and strain your hamstrings. Just go down as far as you can go.

touch your toes

Pic Cred: http://clemsontrails.blogspot.com/p/botanical-gardens_6273.html

The next essential muscle to stretch are your calf muscles. These muscles help you push off the ground in mid stride. Your calf muscles can also easily be strained. The picture below demonstrates how to stretch them. Find a wall (shouldn’t be hard) and push on the wall while extending one leg out behind you. Your entire foot should be on the ground while stretching your calf.

running calf stretches

Pic Cred: http://www.stack.com/2012/05/02/run-warm-up/

This next stretch is for your butt. When often running many miles, your butt will feel all of that exercise. Stretching your butt can never hurt your run. Lay on your back and rest one leg over the other in an “L” shape. It almost looks like your trying to cross your legs while laying down instead of sitting in a chair. Next, try to pull the leg closer to your chest. You should feel your hamstrings and butt stretch.

running stretches for your butt

Pic Cred: http://www.liveawesome.com/public/289.cfm

So that are some basic stretches that I use before and after every run. When done correctly, you will feel a much better recovery after the run as well as better performance during it. Try it out and tell me what you think. Leave a comment below.

Cheers!
Benjamin Moore
Athlete, Beer Connoisseur, and all around Geek
Email me at ben@activebeergeek.com

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