Fitness Articles

6 Stretches Every Runner Should Do

How to Properly Stretch After You Run

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Calf Stretch
Flexible calf muscles can improve your ability to increase the length of your stride, which results in increased speed. Loose calf muscles also take some of the burden away from your shins as you bring your trailing leg forward when running, helping prevent shin pain or shin splints. This basic calf stretch is an easy one to incorporate. Check out this video for more calf stretching demonstrations.

Stand facing a wall, about 12 inches away from it. Extend your arms in front of your shoulders to place your hands flat on the wall, keeping the elbows bent. Keeping both feet flat, step or slide your left foot (pictured) back, lengthening your left leg and straightening your arms. You should feel the stretch in the calf of the back (straight) leg. The more your lower your heel to the floor, and the farther you slide your straight leg behind you, the deeper you will feel this stretch. Breathe deeply and hold for 10-30 seconds. Switch sides.

Iliotibial (IT) Band Stretch
The illiotibial band is part of a muscle that runs along the outside of the knee and can create pain when it starts to rub on the kneecap. This is typically an overuse injury (trying to do too much too soon or not giving your body adequate time for rest and recovery). Stretches that target the IT band, like the example below, can reduce pain and prevent future knee problems.

With the left side of your body next to a wall, stand tall with your hand on the wall and your body an arm&quots length away from the wall. Cross your right leg (leg farthest from the wall) in front of your left leg (leg closest to the wall) and place your opposite hand on your hip, shoulders relaxed, feet flat on the floor. Breathe slowly and steadily as you push your left hip toward the wall, bending your left elbow. Keep the foot closest to the wall flat on the floor, both legs straight, and your back straight (no leaning forward or back). Hold the stretch for 10-30 seconds. Switch sides.

Try this routine at the end of each run (after cooling down) and see if it makes a difference in your running performance and progress. It doesn't take long to notice improvements in flexibility, so take the time to stretch and your running legs will thank you for 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

  • Loved your blog. I am afraid I am guilty of not stretching enough. - 5/23/2016 7:53:09 AM
  • These are actually good to do for anybody to maintain their functional flexibility, - 5/22/2016 10:29:56 PM
  • Nice alternative to the tortuous rolling on foam roller for the IT band. Thank you. I just find the foam roller extremely painful. - 4/24/2016 10:05:39 AM
    I love all of these ideas... I'm so horrible about stretching. I'm definitely going to give some of these a try! http://www.allabo - 4/20/2016 4:45:42 PM
  • 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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