Taking the time to stretch before and after a run can improve flexibility in your muscles and joints. It gives you more range of motion and reduces your chances of injury. The best stretches for runners can be different for everyone. You can decide what to stretch, which muscles to stretch, how long to hold each stretch and the speed at which you stretch.
Static vs. Dynamic Stretching for Runners
Before you dive into a stretching routine, let’s talk about the differences between static and dynamic stretching.
Static stretches are held in one place for 15 seconds. While static stretching can help your body cool down and flush out lactic acid after a workout, research has shown that it can do more harm than good if you dive straight into static stretches before your body is adequately warmed up.
Dynamic stretching is the preferred method of stretching for runners. This involves moving as you stretch to lengthen muscles. Studies have shown that dynamic stretching before a run can reduce hamstring strain and injury.
Get the best of both worlds by starting your warm-up with some dynamic stretches, then targeting specific muscle groups with static stretches.
The Best Dynamic Stretches for Runners
It’s a good idea to walk or jog for about five minutes before you start doing these dynamic stretches. Then, you can move into some static stretches before going on your run.
You’ll primarily feel squats working your quads, glutes, and hamstrings. Doing squats on your StrongTek Wooden Balance Board will also fire up your core.
Stand on the floor or balance board with your feet a little wider than hip-width apart. Keep your chest up as you push your weight onto the heels of your feet. Now, push your hips back like you’re about to sit down. Lower until you start to feel your quads turning on. Pause, then exhale and push from your heels until you are standing again.
Lower into a plank position, with your arms straight and hands under your shoulders. Use a pair of StrongTek Yoga Wedges to protect your wrists. Your feet can be wide apart or close together.
Now, with both hands on the ground, bring your left leg forward toward your left elbow. Jump it back as you move your right leg forward toward your right elbow. These can be slow to start, then get faster as you loosen up.
From your plank position, lower your knees to the floor. If you need some extra cushioning, use StrongTek’s Balancing Pads under your knees. Keep your back flat as you move your left leg behind you with your knee bent and your foot flexed toward the ceiling. Now, bring your left leg upward, then back to the starting position. Do ten reps, then repeat on the other side.
The Best Static Stretches for Runners
Perform these static stretches after your dynamic warm- up and again after your run.
Kneeling hip flexor stretch
From standing, lower to the ground. Move your right knee behind you and your left knee facing up. Use the StrongTek Yoga Foam Wedge underneath your knees for added support. With your hands on your hips, lean forward as you straighten your right hip until you feel the stretch in your hip. Hold for 30 seconds, then switch sides.
This yoga staple is great for runners because it hits several different muscle groups. Lower to the floor in a plank position. Place your StrongTek Yoga Foam Wedge Blocks under your hands for additional support. Bring your hips up toward the ceiling, keeping your arms straight and your head, neck, and back in a straight line. Press your heels to the floor and hold. You can move your legs gently to get a deeper calf stretch. Slowly shake your head from side to side to loosen your neck.
Stand close to a wall. Bend one leg as you straighten the other and step it behind you. Try to keep your foot flat on the floor, but only push your heel down until you feel a stretch in the calf.
For a deeper stretch or more support, use StrongTek’s Wooden Slant Board, which offers different levels of support for deep calf stretching.
Stay Flexible with StrongTek
Whether you’re an ultramarathoner or a weekend warrior, it’s important to give your legs, core, and upper body a chance to warm up before your run and cool down afterward. Our products are designed to help you improve flexibility and balance, no matter your fitness level.
Check out all of our products to learn more about how they can help you stay healthy and injury-free.