After a run, it might be easy to change out of your running gear and continue with your day. However, the next day you might regret neglecting to stretch afterward. Just like you should stretch before you run, you should also take the time to stretch after you run.
“Static stretching after a run is beneficial because there is increased blood flow to the collagen in the muscles and tendons, which results in a deeper stretch,” Health Fitness Specialist of Corporate Fitness Works and Certified Strength and Condition Specialist John Herman says.
WHAT IS STATIC STRETCHING?
Static stretching is different than the dynamic stretching you should do before your run. Static stretches are held for a longer time and there is no active movement involved. When doing these post-run stretches, you want to hold the stretch in a way that is challenging but still comfortable. Also, a static stretch is held for at least 30 seconds.
“To fully benefit from a static stretch, stretch 30 seconds or longer,” Herman says. “After roughly 30 seconds, the body understands that you’re stretching by deactivating the central nervous system. This mechanism in particular is called the muscle spindle, which prevents overstretching by having receptors that sense change in length of the muscle.”
These five stretches for runners are a great way to help lengthen the muscles that are used.
HIP FLEXOR STRETCH
The hip flexors are what connects your legs to your upper half. These muscles work to raise your thigh up, so they’re essential in helping you run. For this post-run stretch:
- Start in a lunge position with your front leg bent in a 90-degree angle.
- Rest your back knee on the ground and have your hands on your hips.
- Slowly lean forward into the stretch. You should feel the stretch in the front of your hip.
- Hold this position for at least 30 seconds and then switch legs.
For a more advanced and deeper stretch, lift your back foot off the ground and reach back with your hand to hold it.
TWISTED GLUTE STRETCH
Your glutes play a role in supporting your hips when you run. Focus on them with this stretch:
- Sit on the ground with your legs and feet extended straight in front of you.
- Take your right leg and cross it over your left leg. Your right leg should be bent with your right foot at the outside of your left knee.
- Turn your upper body to the right while keeping your legs in place.
- Put your left elbow on the outside of your right knee. You should feel a stretch.
STANDING HAMSTRING STRETCH
The hamstrings oppose the quads and stop your knee from overextending during a stride. For this hamstring stretch, you should:
- Start by standing straight with your feet together.
- Extend your left leg about a foot out in front of you. Rest only your heel on the ground.
- Keep your back straight as you bend from your hip joints to bring your chest toward your knee.
- Your right knee will bend down, and you’ll feel the stretch in your left leg.
- After holding for at least 30 seconds, switch to your other side.
WALL CALF STRETCH
Calf muscles are heavily used when running up and down a hill. Give them a good post-run stretch with this wall calf stretch:
- Start by facing the wall and place your hands about shoulder height on the wall.
- Place your right leg closer to the wall and bend the knee.
- Leave your left leg further back and straight.
- Lean forward and hold for at least 30 seconds. You should feel the stretch in your calf.
- Switch legs and repeat.
STANDING QUAD STRETCH
Moving your leg forward relies heavily on your quads. This stretching exercise can help you lengthen the quad muscle back out to proper form.
- Start by standing upright. This stretch requires some balance, so standing by a sturdy object to hold on to is recommended.
- Bring your left heel toward your buttocks. Keep your right foot planted firmly on the ground.
- Grab your left ankle with your left hand and bring it as close as you can to your backside. You should feel the stretch in your quad.
- Hold this quad stretch for at least 30 seconds before moving onto the right leg.
“Static stretching after a run will help alleviate the shortened and tight muscles back to proper positions,” Herman says.
Make sure you take the time to stretch after your next run. Looking for more stretches for runners? Check out our five pre-run stretches guide.