10 Post-Run Stretching Exercises for Runners

10 Post-Run Stretching Exercises for Runners

Peak running season is here, and these 10 post-run stretching exercises can help you run your best and stay injury free. It’s important to take good care of your body so it can rise to the challenge! This not only means getting adequate sleep, hydrating and eating well, but doing things before and after your runs to optimize your performance. While dynamic warmups are key before you start out on your run, stretching exercises are important afterwards. As some runners have learned the hard way, post-run stretching exercises are not something you want to skip.

One of the best ways to improve your overall performance is to stretch after running. As you run, muscles, tendons and ligaments can become overworked and fatigued. This tends to cause these to tighten up after a run causing pain, cramps, and limited movement. In addition, tight muscles and tissues make you more prone to strains, pulls, and tears. For all of these reasons, it’s important to stretch after running. And the following 10 stretching exercises are some that every runner should perform after their workout.

  1. IT Band Stretch – While standing, cross one leg behind the other leg. With hands on your hips, now lean sideways toward your straight (front) leg. Hold for 15 seconds. These stretching exercises should be done on both sides.
  • Butterfly Stretch – While seated, bend both legs toward you and place soles of feet against one another. Gently push down on your knees until you feel your groin and inner thigh area tighten. Hold for 30 seconds. This is a great stretch after running long distances.
  • Hamstring Stretch – While lying on your back and one leg bent, raise the opposite leg while keeping it straight. Gently pull the straight leg back with both hands until hamstrings tighten. Perform these stretching exercises on both legs and hold each for 30 seconds.
  • Quadriceps Stretch – While standing, bend one leg at the knee and grasp the foot behind you with your same-side hand. Bend enough to feel a good quadriceps stretch and hold for 15 seconds. Perform on both sides. This is a necessary stretch after running hills. 
  • Calf Stretch – These stretching exercises require a small step or block. Place the ball of one foot on the step and allow you heel to drop below the step. You other leg will need to bend slightly to accommodate the drop. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat on the other side.
  • Low Lunges – These stretching exercises target your hip flexors. Extend one leg straight behind you while putting your font leg in a bent-knee position. Your torso should be straight and upright. Gradually extend your torso forward until you feel tightness in your front hips. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat on the other side.
  • Hip and Low Back Stretch – While seated, lift and bend one leg over the other while keeping the other leg straight. Gently pull your bent knee toward your chest, and then twist to look over your shoulder on your straight leg side. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat on the opposite side.
  • Abdominal Stretch – This is an ideal stretch after running intervals and tempo runs. While standing with arms raised and clasped above your head, allow both shoulders to drop. Then, bend backwards, to the right, and to the left while holding each position 15 seconds.
  • Triceps Stretch – These are stretching exercises that many runners neglect but are quite important. Move one arm and elbow across your body while using the other arm to pull the elbow against your chest. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat on the other side.
  1. Glute Stretch – While lying on your back with knees bent, cross one leg over and onto your opposite thigh. With both hands, reach under the same thigh and gently pull toward your torso. Hold 30 seconds and repeat on the other side.

Stretching Exercises – Quick, Easy, and Essential

As you can see, the stretching exercises above are all between 15-30 seconds each. That means you can generally complete a full stretching routine in about 15 minutes after a workout. Of course, you may choose to work on some targeted areas if tight, but a stretch after running is essential. Not only will it keep you off the sidelines, but it will allow you to perform at your absolute best.

Dawna is a mom of two, author of ten books and founder of Women's Running magazine and the Virtual Women's Half Marathon series. She is also a certified health coach and motivational speaker. Dawna has appeared on the Today show, MSNBC and morning news programs on NBC, CBS, ABC, and Fox. Dawna has launched and sold two wellness companies and loves combining her passion for health and wellness with her love of running. Learn more about Dawna Stone.

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