It is essential to stretch after each run, even if it is only three miles. Although it is more important to stretch after long runs. Stretching after a run helps to keep you flexible and to prevent soreness. Tightness in your muscles can also lead to pain and injuries.
I used to do long runs and afterward get in my car and go home. On my way home I felt soreness in my legs and butt. It continued throughout the night and sometimes into the next day. I thought maybe if I stretched afterward it might help.
After trying out different stretches, I came up with these 6 post-run stretches to prevent soreness. It worked. Now I have a routine after every run to do these sequences of stretches. I don’t get sore anymore and I am more flexible. You do not need any equipment for these exercises. These are stretches you can do outside after a long run.
After a long run, it is advisable to walk around for about five or ten minutes before starting any stretches. Your muscles are too tight yet to stretch.
6 Post-Run Stretches To Prevent Soreness
It takes me 10-15 minutes to complete these sequences of post-run stretches. Hold each position for about two minutes. Timing isn’t as important as feeling a deep stretch. Go into each stretch slowly. After about 30 seconds into the stretch, go a little bit further if you can. Don’t force it. If the muscle is too tight, go on to the next stretch and then come back to it.
Lunging Calf Stretch
Place one foot behind trying to press heel to the floor. The further apart your feet are, the deeper the stretch will be. Keep back and torso straight. Do not lean forward. As the muscle relaxes, bend the forward knee more to intensify the stretch. Repeat on the other leg.
This is a very important post-run stretch since the calf muscles get used the most during your run.
Standing Quad Stretch
Balance on one leg while grabbing the other foot behind you with your hand. If you are having a hard time balancing, lean your hand against a wall or counter (or tree if you are outside) for support. Keep the bent leg parallel with your other leg. Hold for 30-60 seconds and then repeat on the other leg.
Start in a standing position, then bend over until your hands reach the floor. Walk your hands out a couple feet. Try to touch your heels to the floor. You may not be able to do this if you are not that flexible. That is ok. Go down as far as you can without pushing your foot down. Ease into the stretch. Hold for about 30 seconds and see if you can then touch your heels further to the floor. Hold for another 30 seconds.
Sit on the floor and put your feet together in front of you. Press down on your knees to push your legs further to the floor for a nice stretch. Lean slightly forward with your back straight. Hold for 30-60 seconds.
This is a great post-run stretch to open up your hips and for inner thighs. Runners usually have tight hips from moving the legs just forward, not side to side. It is good to keep the hips flexible to prevent groin injuries.
Bring one leg in front of you bent and extend your other leg behind you. Keep your hips facing the floor. Once your muscles relax, you will be able to go further into the stretch. You can then bring your elbows to the floor while keeping your back straight. Hold for at least 60 seconds. Repeat on the other side. This post-run stretch is another great hip opener.
Standing Hamstring Stretch
From the pigeon pose move the front leg behind you and go up into downward dog again. From there walk your hands back until they are right in front of your feet. Hang there for about 30 seconds feeling the hamstring muscles stretch. Roll up slowly until you are in a standing position.
It is important to ease off of a stretch if it hurts. Stretching is not supposed to be painful. If you begin a stretch and the muscle is still too tight, skip that particular stretch and go onto the next one. Come back to it later in the routine.
Make these six post-run stretches part of your routine after every run to prevent soreness and promote flexibility.
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