Stretching for Runners

by Sharon Hopkins

Benefits of Stretching: Stretching exercises have many positive effects when it comes to doing our daily activities. Stretching is even more important for sports persons and those involved in rigorous activities. Stretching for runners is necessary and should be an integral part of their daily running routine. Stretching exercises increase flexibility, physical fitness and movement. They stimulate the joints to produce more synovial fluid which lubricates the joints and makes them supple. They also help to reduce tension and stress.

Specific benefits of Stretching: If you are a runner you will know the importance of stretching exercises, and the difficulties you face when you try to avoid stretching exercises. Running causes the muscles to shorten and lengthen, and stretching and warming up, makes the muscles free and more supple, and aids this movement. As muscles become stronger, they have a decreased range of motion leading to greater chances of injury, and a proper stretching program is required to prevent this.

Stretching for running is even more important because it loosens the muscles (like the hamstrings) and joints, and increases range of motion, thus decreasing the risks of injury while running. Stretching for runners is also recommended after running, since it helps to prevent post-run stiffness and soreness of the muscles and joints.

Caution: A point to be noted is that runners should also remember to warm up sufficiently before embarking on their stretching exercises. Even a short jog at the end and beginning of the activity is sufficient. This makes the muscles more flexible and less prone to injury. Always start slow and easy and stop if you face any problems. It is better to consult an expert before starting any exercise.

Here are some of the best stretches for runners.

  • The Seated Hamstring Stretch: Sit on the ground and extend one leg outward with the toe facing up. Angle the other leg in such a way that the sole of that foot rests on the extended foot. Bend at the waist toward the toe till you feel a slight pull in the back of the leg. Be careful not to use any bouncing movement while performing this.
  • The Calf Stretch: Stand straight facing a wall, and place your hands firmly against it at shoulder level. Place one foot in front of you and one behind you. Now bend your knee toward the wall and lean forward from the waist. Press the back foot’s heel to the ground while the heel of the front foot rises up. Repeat the same procedure with the other leg.
  • The Butterfly Stretch: This is a seated stretch where you pull up your feet towards your groin with your knees pointing out sideways.

All stretches are best held for around 10 to 15 seconds before being released.

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