Fitness
Stylecraze

15 Effective Stretches For Runners To Do Before And After A Run

by
ISSA Certified Specialist in Fitness & Nutrition
15 Effective Stretches For Runners To Do Before And After A Run May 9, 2018

Stretching is the best way to improve your run and prevent injuries. A study published in the Journal Of Sports Science & Medicine found that stretching before a sprint improved performance by 0.94% (1). Harvard Medical School states that stretching strengthens muscles, improves flexibility, and supports a range of motions (2). So, whether you are a new runner or a pro, you must stretch. And by stretch, I mean dynamic stretches (warm-up) and static stretches (cool down). Read on to know the best warm-up and cool down stretches that EVERY runner should do. Swipe up!

15 Stretches For Runners

Yes, you must stretch, but make sure you do the right stretch at the right time. Warm-up stretches or dynamic stretches should be done before running, and cool down or static stretches should be done after a run. Here are 7 warm-up and 8 cool down stretches that will help you immensely if you do them regularly. Check them out.

7 Best Dynamic Stretches (Warm-up) To Do Before Running

Dynamic stretches are also known as warm-up exercises and are typically done before running (or any exercise). For running, you must pay attention to your lower body stretches as it will prepare your abs, glutes, hip flexors, quads, hamstrings, calves, and bones. And this will help you run better and avoid injuries.

Many runners do static stretching, which is wrong! You should avoid static stretching before a run as it can lead to muscle cramps and pull, which will prevent you from performing your best. With that in mind, let’s get started with the warm-up stretches. Scroll down.

1. Forward Leg Swings

Target

Glutes, quads, hamstrings, and hip flexors.

How To Do

  1. Stand straight with your spine erect, shoulders rolled back, legs hip-width apart, and look forward.
  2. Lift your right leg off the floor and swing it back and forth 10 times.
  3. Rest your right leg on the floor.
  4. Lift your left leg off the floor and swing it back and forth 10 times.

Tip: You can bend your back a little as you swing your leg back to keep your body stable on one leg.

2. Sideways Leg Swings

Target

Glutes, adductors, hip flexors, and groin muscles.

How To Do

  1. Stand behind a chair and hold its back with both hands. Take two steps back, and keep your legs shoulder-width apart.
  2. Lift your right leg off the floor, support your body on your left foot and hand, and raise your right leg to the right side up to your hip.
  3. Swipe your right leg down, cross your left leg, and bring it up on the left side.
  4. Swipe it down, cross your left leg, and bring it up on your right side at the hip level.
  5. Do this 10 times and then rest your right leg. Lift your left leg off the floor and repeat the same.

3. High Knees

Target

Quads, hamstrings, glutes, and hip flexors.

How To Do

  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart.
  2. Start running in one place (like jogging), but lift your knees high toward your chest.
  3. Do this 20-30 times.

4. Forward Lunges

Target

Quads, hamstrings, hip flexors, and glutes.

How To Do

  1. Stand straight with your feet shoulder-width apart. Place your hands on your waist, roll your shoulders back, and look forward.
  2. Take a step forward with your right leg, flex both your knees, and lower your body. Do not bend your torso. Your right thigh should be perpendicular to the right shin bone, and your left knee should almost touch the floor.
  3. Get back up and return your right leg beside your left leg.
  4. Take a step forward with your left leg, flex your knees, and lower your body until your right knee almost touches the floor. Also, your left thigh should be perpendicular to the left shin.
  5. Repeat this 10 times.

5. Open Gate Circles

Target

Adductors, abductors, glutes, and hip flexors.

How To Do

  1. Stand straight with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Lift your right leg off the floor, flex your right knee, and bring your right leg up to the hip level.
  3. Rotate your knee out and feel the stretch in your groin muscles.
  4. Rotate your knee back to the starting position.
  5. Do this 10 times.
  6. Repeat with the left leg as well.

6. Jumping Jacks

Target

Targets the entire body, increases the heart rate, and preps you for the cardio (running).

How To Do

  1. Stand straight with your feet hip-width apart. Roll your shoulders back, keep your core engaged, and your hands by your side. This is the starting position.
  2. Jump and move your legs a little wider than shoulder-width apart. Simultaneously, raise both your hands sideways and above your head.
  3. Land softly on the floor. Jump again and bring your legs and hands back to the starting position.
  4. Repeat 30 times.

7. Ankle Rotations

Target

Ankles and calves.

How To Do

  1. Stand straight with your feet hip-width apart. You can hold the back of a chair for support.
  2. Lift your right leg a little. Do not bend your knees.
  3. Rotate your foot in the clockwise and anticlockwise directions.
  4. Do this 10 times in each direction and then lower your right leg to the floor.
  5. Lift your left leg a little and repeat.

These are the 7 best pre-run warm-up or dynamic stretches. After you are done with the run, don’t just grab a bottle of water and sit to rest. That’s the worst thing to do. You must do the following static stretches or cool down exercises.

8 Best Static Stretches (Cool Down) To Do After Running

Right after you have finished your run, you must cool down and then go about your day. Here is a list of static stretches or cool down exercises.

1. Quads Stretch

Target

Quads and pelvic muscles.

How To Do

  1. Stand straight near a wall with your legs hip-width apart. Place your right palm against the wall for support.
  2. Lift your left leg off the floor, flex your left knee, and hold your foot with your left leg. Press your left heel against the back of your thighs. Feel the stretch in your quads.
  3. Hold this pose for 2 seconds and then drop the leg back on the floor.
  4. Place your left palm against the wall, lift your right leg, flex your right knee, and hold the right foot with your right hand and press it against the back of your thigh. Hold this pose for 2 seconds.
  5. Repeat this 5 times.

2. Hamstring Stretch

Target

Hamstrings, calves, and glutes.

How To Do

  1. Stand straight with your feet close to each other. Keep your shoulders rolled back and hands by your side.
  2. Bend your body forward and try touching your feet with your hands.
  3. Hold this pose for 3 seconds and feel the stretch in your hamstrings. Do not bend your knees.
  4. Slowly get back up to the starting position.
  5. Repeat this 3 times.

3. Calf Stretch

Target

Calves and hamstrings.

How To Do

  1. Stand straight facing a wall. Place both your palms on the wall at the shoulder level. Keep your shoulders rolled back.
  2. Flex your left knee a little and place your right leg right behind you. Keep your right leg straight and right foot flat on the floor. Feel the stretch in your right calf muscle.
  3. Place your right foot beside the left.
  4. Flex your right knee a little and place your left leg behind you. Feel the stretch in your left calf.
  5. Do this 5 times.

4. Piriformis Stretch

Target

Glutes and pelvic muscles.

How To Do

  1. Lie down on a mat, flex your knees, and keep your feet flat on the mat.
  2. Hold your right knee with the right hand, and the right ankle with your left hand. Pull your knee toward your chest.
  3. Hold it for 2 seconds and then release.
  4. Do the same with the left leg.
  5. Repeat 5 times.

5. Psoas Stretch

Target

Inner thighs, groin muscles, hamstrings, and quads.

How To Do

  1. Kneel down on a mat. Keep your spine straight, and shoulders rolled back.
  2. Put your right leg forward, and keep your right foot flat on the mat.
  3. Push your hips inside and down. Extend your hands and place them on the floor to intensify the stretch. Hold this pose for 2 seconds and then release.
  4. Do the same with your left leg.
  5. Repeat 3 times.

6. Groin Stretch

Target

Inner thighs and groin muscles.

How To Do

  1. Stand straight with your feet wider apart than shoulder-width apart.
  2. Lunge on your right side. Make sure your right knee is pointing out, and left foot is pointing up. You can support your body by lightly placing your fingertips on the floor.
  3. Without lifting your right heel off the floor, push your hips down toward the floor. Support your body by placing your left palm on the floor. Hold this pose for 3 seconds and then release.
  4. Do the same on the left side.

7. Glute Stretch

Target

Glutes and hamstrings.

How To Do

  1. Lie down on a mat, keep your knees flexed, and feet flat on the floor. Lift your right leg and place it on your left knee. This is the starting position.
  2. Hold your left thigh with both hands. Lift your left leg off the floor, and pull it toward your chest.
  3. Release your right hand and place it on top of your right knee. Push your right knee back, and pull your left thigh up. Feel the stretch in your glutes. Hold this for 2 seconds and then release.
  4. Do the same with your left leg as well.

8. Iliotibial Band Stretch

Target

Iliotibial band

How To Do

  1. Stand straight with your right leg in front of the left. The tip of your left foot should touch your right heel.
  2. Keeping your legs stationary, turn your torso toward your right. Hold this for 2 seconds and then release.
  3. Do the same on the left side.

These are the top 15 warm-up and cool down stretches that every runner must do. They will help you run better and faster without making your muscles sore. Have any questions? Scroll down and post them in the comments box below.

Expert’s Answers For Readers’ Questions

Does stretching before exercising reduce the risk of injury?

Yes. But you have to do dynamic stretches (also known as warm-up). If you do static stretches before exercise, you will increase the chances of injury.

Does stretching reduce soreness?

Yes. Stretching helps to relax and release the muscles fibers, hence reducing soreness.

How to reduce shin splints pain after running?

You must see a doctor immediately and follow the instructions to reduce pain from shin splints.

How long are you supposed to stretch before running?

Take 10 minutes to stretch before running.

Feedback

The following two tabs change content below.
Charushila is an ISSA Certified Specialist in Fitness Nutrition and a full-time contributor to Diet & Weight Loss at Stylecraze. She believes that food has healing powers and eating good food is the best way to lose weight. A binge eater-turned-fitness enthusiast, Charushila likes to share her knowledge and experience with the world. When she is not working, she loves to cook healthy food, watch movies, travel, workout, and read Bengali literature.