Ready To Run: Get Your Stretch On

Stretching helps to prevent injury, increase flexibility and keep muscles in top condition; which in turn will help your running performance.  The number one rule when stretching for running (or any other exercise for that matter) is to NEVER stretch a muscle cold.  Stretching a muscle before it is warm can lead a tear or even injury.  If you prefer to stretch earlier into your run, that is fine, but it is suggested that you do a sufficient warm-up run prior to any stretches.Tight Hamstrings and Hip Flexors are two of the most common "problem" areas for runners.  Here are some simple stretches to target specific muscle groups in your legs and to help keep you limber and increase your performance.  Remember to perform these, and any other stretches, when your muscles have been warmed up.

1.  Hamstrings

Modified Hurdler Stretch: This stretch is great for targeting one leg at a time, and is super for those with really tight hamstrings.
  • Sit on the floor and straighten your left leg in front of you. Bend the right knee, placing the sole of your right foot against your left inner thigh.
  • Fold over your left leg, keeping your back straight. Hold for 30 seconds, then switch legs.
2.  Hip Flexors

Butterfly Stretch: This stretch is great for opening up the hips.
  • Sit on the floor and bring the soles of your feet together in front of you. 
  • Gently press your knees towards the floor and hold for 30 seconds. You can also grab your toes with your hands and increase your stretch by gently pushing down on your knees with your elbows.
3.  Quadriceps

Standing Quad Stretch:  This basic quad stretch can be done easily and anywhere:
  • Stand on one leg with your knees touching. If you need to, grab hold of a chair or wall for support.
  • Grab your left foot with your left hand and pull toward your butt. Do your best to keep your chest upright, and ensure that your folded knee remains parallel to your standing knee and press your hips forward.
  • Hold for 20 to 30 seconds, then stretch the other leg.
4.  Calves

Wall Calf Stretch:  This is an easy calf stretch that you can do just about anywhere.
  • Stand a little less than arm's distance from the wall, and press your palms against the wall for balance.
  • Step your left leg forward and your right leg back, keeping your feet parallel to each other and perpendicular to the wall.
  • Bend your left knee and press through your right heel, ensuring you keep your back heel on the floor.
  • Hold for 20 to 30 seconds and switch legs.


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