Everyone knows you should do some stretching after a run, just like everyone knows you should eat at least five servings of fruit and veg a day. But knowing something and doing it are very different things. Most people just want to take off their trainers and hit the shower as soon as they finish a run.
However, spending five minutes stretching after your training will help your muscles recover and prepare them for your next workout. To help you do the right thing after your next run, we enlisted Richard Tidmarsh, strength and conditioning coach and founder of Reach Fitness, and Chris Magee, head of yoga at Another_Space, for some great post-run stretches.
You’ll find Tidmarsh and Magee’s stretches below, and once you’ve tried them and started to realise how much a little stretching and mobility work can benefit your running, check out some of our other running articles on the topic. We have round-ups of great yoga poses and Pilates stretches for runners, as well as a foam rolling routine you can use to ease any aches and pains in your muscles after a run.
If you then decide short routines like these are no longer enough for you, check out our YouTube round-up of the best post-run stretches and yoga routines for runners. As keen runners ourselves, we’ve followed a lot of YouTube stretching videos and it can be a very hit-and-miss experience, so skip the searching and use our carefully-compiled list of great stretching sessions.
You start this stretch in the runner’s lunge position, which just happens to be another great stretch. From a standing position, put your hands either side of your feet. Then take a big stride back with one foot so the back leg is straight and your front knee is bent at a 90° angle.
“From the runner’s lunge position, drop your back knee to the floor and untuck your toes,” says Magee. “Turn your chest in the direction of your front leg. This may be enough of a stretch for your quad and hip flexor – if so, stop here and breathe. If you need more of a stretch, bring your back foot up and reach your hand back to catch your foot. If you can’t reach your foot, use a belt or strap. Hold the pose for a minimum of 30 seconds.”
Seated Forward Fold
Start this stretch by sitting down with your legs straight out in front of you.
“Keeping your and your feet feet flexed, sit upright so your spine is as straight as possible, then fold forwards over your thighs,” says Magee. “Focus on lengthening your lower back while squeezing your quads. Grab your toes and pull your elbows back towards your hips to go deeper into the pose. If you can’t grab your toes, use a belt or strap around the balls of your feet. Hold the stretch for 30-60 seconds.”
“From a press-up position, bring your right leg up and place it so your knee is by your right wrist and your right foot is by your left wrist, with your shin parallel to your chest,” says Tidmarsh. “From this position sit down into the stretch, initially keeping your chest up and making sure your hips are square with your shoulders. Then slowly drop your chest forwards and hold the stretch for 30 seconds. You will feel a deep stretch in your right glute and lower back. Breathe, stretch and enjoy. Then repeat on the other side.”
“This is a great move to open your hips and stretch your quads after a run,” says Tidmarsh. “Sit on the floor with your legs out straight. Then bend your right leg and place the sole of your right foot on your left thigh. Then bend your left leg out to the left. Then place your right elbow on the floor behind you (if you can) and feel the stretch in your right hip and left quad. To increase the stretch, place your elbow further away from you. Hold for 30 seconds, then repeat on the other side.”
“The scorpion is a great way to stretch a long chain of muscles all the way from your quad to your upper back,” says Tidmarsh. “Lie on your front with arms spread to create a T shape. Lift your left leg and move it over your right in a wide arc, aiming to land your left foot as close to your right hand as possible. Do two or three reps to create distance, then hold at your maximum range for 30 seconds. Repeat on the other side.”
“This is a simple and effective way to stretch your entire posterior chain, lengthening your back and hamstrings,” says Tidmarsh. “Stand on a small step, with your feet shoulder-width apart. Tuck your chin into your chest and slowly “roll” your spine forwards to your full extension, with your arms hanging in front of you. Keeping your chin tucked, take six deep breaths, trying to increase the depth of the stretch on the exhale.”
Training on Demand is a series of video workouts devised by Richard Tidmarsh. For more info visit r4reach.com