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If you’re an avid runner, you know the importance of performance, speed and safety. Proper stretching can help achieve all this, and more. Here are five simple exercises that will help you stretch for running and improve your performance.
1. Hamstring Stretches
Starting with the hamstrings is an effective way to stretch for running. This muscle is essential for providing a runner with power and should be kept flexible. Here are two exercises that you can use:
a. Standing Hamstring Stretch
Stand up tall with your feet shoulder-width apart. Bring one foot through and rest it on your opposite knee. Lean forward until you feel the stretch in your hamstrings, keeping your back flat. Make sure that your head is in-line with your trunk. Hold the stretch for 20 seconds, then switch legs.
b. Lying Hamstring Stretch
Lie down with your legs outstretched and flat on the ground. Bring one leg up, placing your leg on your opposite knee. Reach forward with both arms and feel the sensation of the stretch in both hamstrings. Hold the position for 20 seconds, and then repeat with the opposite leg.
2. Quadriceps Stretch
The quadriceps are used by runners to extend the lower leg and ankle, which is important for driving off the ground with each step. Here is an effective way to stretch your quadriceps:
a. Standing Quadriceps Stretch
Stand upright with your feet shoulder-width apart. Bring one foot up and grab it with your hand, pulling the heel up towards your buttocks. Make sure to keep your hips squared and your chest upright. Once this position is held for 20 seconds, switch legs and repeat.
3. Calves Stretch
The calf muscles are used to propel the body forward while running and should be kept flexible and strong. Here is a simple stretch to help with this:
a. Standing Calf Stretch
Stand up tall with your feet shoulder width apart. Bring one leg forward and lean onto the wall. Make sure to keep your heel firmly on the ground. Bend your front leg until you feel the stretch in your calf muscles in the back leg. Repeat this with the opposite leg.
4. Hip Flexors Stretches
Runners use their hip flexors to stabilize their stride and maintain balance. Keeping them flexible is essential for achieving this, so here is a simple stretch to help with this:
a. Standing Hip Flexors Stretch
Stand upright with your feet shoulder-width apart. Step one foot forward and lower your hips down and back. Make sure you keep your chest upright and your lower back flat. Hold this position for 20 seconds, then switch legs and repeat.
5. Back and Chest Stretches
Runners use their back and chest to help with breathing as they run. To ensure that they can do this effectively, it is beneficial to keep them flexible. Here are two exercises which will do this:
a. Chest Expansion Stretch
Stand up straight with your feet shoulder-width apart. Take a deep breath in and raise your arms and chest up to the ceiling. Hold this position for 5 seconds, then slowly bend forward at your hips, keeping your back flat and your arms outstretched. While exhaling, let your chest slowly fall down and your head towards your toes. Hold this position for 5 seconds and return slowly to the starting position. Repeat this stretch for 5-10 repetitions.
b. Cat and Cow Stretch
Begin on your hands and knees, keeping your back flat and your core engaged. Take a deep breath in and arch your back up towards the ceiling, relaxing your shoulders and letting your head hang down near your chest. Make sure to keep your core engaged and your abdominals contracted. As you exhale, round your spine towards the ceiling and tuck your chin towards your chest. Repeat this stretch for 5-10 repetitions.
People Also Ask
Q: What muscles do runners need to stretch?
Runners need to stretch their hamstrings, quadriceps, calves, hip flexors, back and chest to become a better runner.
Q: How often should runners stretch?
Runners should stretch two to three times a week to improve their performance and prevent injury.
Q: Should runners stretch before or after a run?
Runners should stretch both before and after a run to maintain flexibility and prevent injury.
Q: What type of stretches are best for running?
Dynamic stretches are best for running, such as leg swings or butt kickers, as they help to increase blood flow to the muscles.
Q: How long should a runner hold a stretch?
A runner should hold a stretch for at least 20 seconds to achieve the maximum benefit.
Stretching is essential for any runner to improve performance and reduce the risk of injury. These five stretches are easy to do and can be done anywhere, making them perfect for runners of all levels. Stretching regularly can improve flexibility and help you take your running to the next level.