When you’re stretching before or after workouts, always remember:
- Hold each stretch for 15 to 30 seconds. The deeper you breathe, the more effective the stretch.
- Only stretch far enough to feel it, never force it. It should never hurt. Pain could be an indication of an underlying problem.
- Stretching before a workout may or may not help. The two most critical times to stretch are before running fast (especially any sprints) in a workout or a race, and after you run.
- These stretches can be done indoors or outdoors. They are most comfortable on a soft, but firm surface, like grass.
(1) Grabbing your heels or a full hanging stretch are both fantastic ways to gently relax and stretch your muscles before and after a workout. While grabbing your heels, gradually try to straighten your legs for more intensity in your hamstrings, or just enjoy the gentle pull with your knees bent. When hanging, just let the weight of your upper body gradually pull you closer to your toes and enjoy the gentle stretch on your spine.
(2) Stretching your inner thigh and groin is done best with the butterfly and groin stretch. For the latter, make sure you switch sides to get both legs.
(3) Our quads love the flamingo stretch, which can also be done laying down on your side. In both positions, your knees should be touching and the aim is to touch your foot to your glute. Be careful to not over-extend your knee.
(4) We also love the lunge stretch for quads and hip flexors. Your front knee should make a nice 90 degree angle to the ground and your back foot should be bent with the ball of your foot on the ground. Lunging is an intense stretch and therefore never a good idea pre-workout, make sure your muscles are warm!
(5) And finally, don’t forget about one of the most overlooked running muscles – your calves! Find a stationary object and lean into it with a straight spine. Keep your back leg straight and your trailing heel firmly on the ground. If you can’t feel it, you may need to take your feet farther away from whatever object you’re pushing into. We also love using ledges for calves, dropping the heel below the ledge gives a great stretch to the calf muscle.
These stretches work the major running muscle groups. There are certainly many stretches that will help you to stretch other minor muscles. If you find that you have particularly tight areas, the resources are almost endless. Don’t be afraid to research and find what works best for you, or you can always reach out to us with any questions!