Before setting out on that morning run, you’ll want to make sure that your muscles are completely stretched in order to avoid injury. This is especially important for beginning runners. Because running and other exercise can shorten a person’s muscles, it’s important to stretch in order to keep them flexible and maintain your mobility.
Best Stretches for Runners
When planning your stretching warm-up before running, you’ll want to keep in mind that you’re looking to get the blood flowing throughout your body. About five to 10 minutes of stretching should be long enough to do the trick. With any stretch, the key is to remember it should never hurt to do it.
Here are some of the top stretches for before you set out on your next run:
- Hamstring Stretches
Stretch the muscle that extends from the back of the hip to the knee by sitting on the ground with one leg extended. Gently hold onto your foot for support and reach for your toes, making sure to lean forward from the hips rather than rounding your back. Concentrate on stretching your hamstring rather than pulling back on your foot, as this will put unnecessary strain on your leg.
- Quad Stretches
Your quadriceps cover the front side of your thigh, and they do a lot of the work when you’re running uphill. Stretch your quads by standing upright and tucking one leg up behind your backside. Gently grab your foot with the hand on the same side, then pull your foot toward the back of your thigh to stretch the leg. Hold this pose for about 30 seconds on each side, using a wall or chair for support if you need it.
Lunges are a great way to stretch calves out before your run. Simply stand in a forward lunge position with one leg in front of you and the other leg straight out behind you. Gently bend the leg in front, keeping your back upright and your hands on your hips (or wherever is comfortable), and hold the pose for 30 seconds. Switch to the other side and repeat as many times as you see fit.
- Gluteal Muscles
Your glutes are often overlooked in fitness routines but are especially important for runners. They provide you with a lot of power while running, and they need to be properly stretched before you set out on the trail. You can stretch them by lying on your back with your knees bent, then crossing one ankle over the other knee. Grab behind the knee of the leg that’s still on the ground and pull it up toward your chest. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds on each side.
Your spine can take a lot of impact from running, so you want to make sure it’s warmed up. Lie on your back and gently pull both knees up into your chest, then allow your knees to fall gently to one side for a spinal twist. You can adjust the intensity of the stretch based on how high up you position your knees. If you want more of a stretch, bring them up closer to your chest. Rest your opposite hand on top of your knees to keep them in place, and attempt to keep both hips on the ground. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat on the other side.