No time, feeling lazy, maybe later… Too often, runners neglect stretching. However, they are incredibly important for your muscles; they help you recover and keep your energy long term. Stretching after your run allows you to recover – limiting aches, promoting muscle drainage, and allowing relaxation. The lower body is the principle muscle group to stretch while running, so here’s a demonstration!
We’re starting with the calves! Standing on the curb or a step, leave your left foot in the normal standing position while moving your right foot back so that only your toes are on the ledge. Keep your right foot tense and push down. Afterwards, switch, and do the same with your left foot.
Lean one leg onto a chair. Be careful, the support can’t be too high. The best angle for your knee is less than 90°. Rest your foot on its axis, keep your chest straight, and tense your leg. Lean into the stretch just a little bit. Then change legs.
3. The Quads
Get into a lunging position with one knee on the ground; make sure you don’t arch your back. With this one as well, keep your chest as straight as possible and push forward.
This position allows you to stretch the psoas muscle as well; a muscle usually ignored, but that actually is quite important when running.
4. The Adductors
Sit with your legs spread apart, feet flexed, and a straight back. Eventually, place your hands on your back for support, lean towards the ground, and try to flex your back.
5. The Pyramidalis
I promise this is less complex than it seems! Lay on your back, legs bent, with your feet flat on the ground. Take your right foot and rest it on your left knee. Grab your left knee and pull it towards your chest. Don’t forget about the other side! This stretch also helps to prevent sciatica while running.
You have to maintain each stretch for at least 30 seconds, but you can continue for up to 3 minutes for each muscle. ATTENTION: after exercising, your muscles have micro tears that repair themselves extremely quickly. To avoid risk of injury or aggravating the micro tears, you should stretch an hour or more after exercising. If you’ve just done a particularly hard work out, like a hard race, for example, you should save the stretching for the next day.
The exercises should start out slowly – don’t force anything. Use this time to relax. Your body is your best ally and you have to treat it well.