Fitness Articles

6 Stretches Every Runner Should Do

How to Properly Stretch After You Run


Quadriceps Stretch
Stretching the quads forces your hamstrings to contract, helping them get stronger. It's important to have strong and flexible quads since these muscles help lift your knees and increase your speed. This standing quad stretch is into to incorporate after a run, and once you master this, you can carefully pull your thigh and knee slightly behind your body (not pictured) for a greater hip flexor stretch at the same time.

Stand tall, holding onto a chair or wall for balance if necessary (not pictured). Keep your feet hip-width apart, your back straight and your feet parallel. Reach back and grab your left foot in your left hand, keeping your thighs lined up next to each other and left leg in line with the hip (not pulled back behind you).Breathe deeply and hold for 10-30 seconds. Repeat on opposite side.

Piriformis Stretches
Your piriformis muscle is responsible for the rotation of the hip. Although it's very important in activities that frequently change direction, it tends to tighten up in runners. If the piriformis becomes too tight or spasms, it can irritate the sciatic nerve, which causes pain in the glutes, lower back and thighs. To prevent these issues, try these two stretches:

Lie on your back with your legs extended and your back straight. Keep your hips level and your lower back down on the floor. Bend your left knee, placing left foot flat on the floor (not pictured). Cross your right ankle at your left knee. Grab the back of your left thigh and hug your legs towards your chest. Place your right elbow on the inner portion of your right knee and push it slightly to the side. Breathe deeply and hold for 10-30 seconds. Repeat on opposite side. To reduce the intensity of this stretch, don’t bring your legs towards your chest as much.

Lie on your back with your legs extended and your back straight. Keep your hips level and your lower back down on the floor. Bend your right knee towards your chest, grabbing it with your left hand. Place your right hand out to the side. Keeping your shoulder blades square (on the mat) use your left hand to guide your right knee across your body and towards the floor on your left side. Breathe deeply and hold for 10-30 seconds. Repeat on opposite side. Don’t force your knee to the floor if your flexibility does not allow it.

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About The Author

Jen Mueller Jen Mueller
Jen received her master's degree in health promotion and education from the University of Cincinnati. A mom and avid marathon runner, she is an ACE-certified personal trainer, health coach, medical exercise specialist and behavior change specialist. See all of Jen's articles.

Member Comments

  • Great info! I am just beginning to run. These will help me out. - 7/29/2014 9:30:51 PM
  • LOVE all these stretches...when I 1st started running I didn't believe in stretches, then, I got hurt. My hips were hurting bad, I couldn't walk a step without my hips hurting. Went to the dr, recommended to see a physical therapist and all the stretches you see here are the same stretches I got recommended to do by my PT.
    Great job posting! - 7/22/2014 2:14:55 PM
  • I really like the piriformis stretches. It's the only stretch that helps my pirifomis syndrome. - 7/28/2013 9:47:25 AM
  • I was told in Health & Fitness class in college that you should do the stretches after you warm up and doing some of these at the end of your workout could cause injuries I would be careful about what you do after your workout. - 7/16/2013 7:21:19 PM
  • Love it - 6/24/2013 3:56:52 PM
  • I am going to try the hip stretch - never heard of it before but it sounds like it might really help! - 1/28/2013 2:31:40 PM
  • CLFJR2
    I am going to try these tomorrow for my first run ever. Its a 5 mile Turkey Trot. I will do a run through of these tonight. I am a little anxious about it. - 11/21/2012 6:49:16 PM
  • Best. Stretches. Ever. - 11/21/2012 6:54:47 AM
  • I am planning to become a runner (I think). Thanks for helping me do it safely! - 6/12/2012 9:48:49 AM
  • I started running for the first time last spring, and this article was a real help. I really love the feeling i get after doing these stretches after a (for me) long run. - 3/3/2012 1:53:21 PM
  • This was the best article for my minor complaints; my sciatic nerve & inner left thigh pain, & lower back pain. I try a few Yoga poses, child's pose, hero rising, up&down dog with a few others that I have practiced.

    The yoga Poses I saved from Sparkpeople were new & effective for me and I am having a time finding my saved Yoga stretches. Well, well, well, these photos w/ instructions work aokaydokey too. I saved them to my collection, I would like to add them, as well as those yoga stretches to a regular routine; at least a once weekly routine. Well, provided my allergies & other stressful ssituations will allow me. Does that make since? Anyway I need to Keep up with these, cause my tail bone aches in real bad weather and sometimes my tailbone aches just to ache, probably from injuries which are numerous. - 6/6/2011 3:49:50 AM

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