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I’ve been running for quite a few years now and admittedly, I don’t always stretch as thoroughly as I should. Stretching before and after my runs (often called “sanity miles”) has been one of my biggest goals for this year. I’ve gotten better over the years, but still need to consciously remind myself that it’s super important to stretch both before AND after a run.
In the beginning of my running journey, I honestly didn’t know what to do, which was a huge part of why I often skipped stretching. I’m also super impatient and was always ready to just go. Since I knew I needed a bit more direction, as most runners do in the beginning, I did my research on which stretches are best for activating the muscles you’ll use during your run. I chatted with a few recovery professionals and fitness professionals along the way to make sure I was doing movements that made sense. Sometimes it can help to start running, or doing a light jog before stopping to stretch or making your stretch just a part of the time you allot for your workout. I’ve also found a few stretches after a run, especially a long run, really help with recovery. Below are some of my go-to stretches, since I know stretching can be confusing and overwhelming.
Hip Flexor Stretch:
This one requires a mat or soft surface, but it’s really helped me with my tight hip flexors. You will kneel on one knee with the other foot on the floor in front of you at a 90-degree angle. Keeping your core engaged and torso straight, drive your hip forward until you feel the stretch at the front of your hip. Hold for 5-10 seconds and switch sides.
Glute Stretch via Pigeon Pose:
Start in a downward facing dog and bring one leg in front of you while extending the other behind you. Your front leg should be bent at the knee. Reach your arms in front of you and to either side. Hold and continue to reach until you feel the stretch.
Leg Swings (For Glute & Hip Flexors):
Stand up straight, with your core tight and swing one leg at a time forward (not higher than your hip) and backward. Continue this motion going as slow as you can through the swings both back and front. Make sure to switch sides.
Standing Quad Stretch
Stand up straight, with your core tight, and swing one leg at a time forward (not higher than your hip) and backward. Continue this motion going as slow as you can through the swings both back and front. Make sure to switch sides.
Standing Quad Stretch:
Stand up straight with your legs together. Bend your right heel toward your butt and grab your right foot with your right hand. Push the top of your foot into your hand so that your quad is working and your core is working instead of your arm/hand.
Standing Calf Stretch:
Stand facing a wall with your hands at about chest height. Place the ball of your foot onto the wall while keeping your heel on the floor. Slowly tilt forward, leaning into the wall until you feel the stretch. Hold for the stretch for anywhere between 30 seconds and a minute or two. Don’t forget to switch sides.
These are my favorite stretches before and after a run but there are tons of options so I’d encourage you to find your faves the next time you lace up! These Hoka One One Clifton Edge running shoes are my favorite ones for the summer as the colors remind me of a summer sunset and they are SO comfortable.