How to stretch after a run

Performing stretching exercises after a run will help you cool down gradually and improve your flexibility.

These stretches from physiotherapist Sammy Margo are best done after exercising, when your muscles are warm and more elastic.

Breathe deeply and regularly during the stretches. Aim to stretch to the point of feeling tightness or slight discomfort.

You should not feel any pain when doing these exercises. If you do, stop and seek medical advice.

Hip flexor stretch  hold for 15 seconds

 

Step your left leg forward, keeping both feet pointing straight ahead. Keeping your back leg straight and avoiding sticking your buttock out and arching your back, slowly bend your front leg and push your right buttock forward until you feel a stretch across the front of your right hip joint. Repeat with the other leg.

 

Thigh stretch  hold for 15 seconds

 

Grab the top of your left foot behind you and gently pull your heel towards your left buttock to stretch the front of the thigh, keeping the knees touching. Avoid leaning forwards or to the side. Repeat with the other leg.

Tip: place a hand on a wall or bench for balance

 

Hamstring stretch  hold for 15 seconds

 

Stand with your right leg just in front of the other and your hands on your hips. Keeping your right leg straight and toes pointing up, bend your left leg. Bend towards your right leg, keeping your back straight. Repeat with the other leg.

 

ITB (iliotibial band) stretch  hold for 15 seconds

 

To stretch your right ITB, cross your right leg behind your left leg. Keeping both feet on the ground, lean to your left side and push you right hip outwards. Don’t bend forwards or stick your buttocks out. You should feel the stretch along your outer right thigh and hip. Repeat with the other leg.

 

Calf stretch  hold for 15 seconds

 

Step your right leg forward. Bend your front leg and keep your back leg straight. Both feet should point forwards. Push your left heel into the ground, keeping your left leg straight. You should feel the stretch at the back of your left leg, below the knee. Repeat with the other leg.

 

Lower back stretch  hold for 15 seconds

 

Lie on your back with both feet flat. Pull your right knee to your chest until you feel a stretch in your lower back. Hold for up to 15 seconds and repeat with the left leg. Then pull both knees to your chest and hold for up to 15 seconds. 

 

Buttock stretch  hold for 15 seconds

 

Lie on your back with your knees bent and both feet flat on the floor. Cross your right leg over your left thigh. Grasp the back of your left thigh with both hands and pull the left leg toward your chest. Repeat with the other leg.

Page last reviewed: 22/11/2014

Next review due: 22/11/2016

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The 3 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

Thirdthymelucky said on 25 July 2013

Muscles naturally contract after exercise, so it is important to undertake some post-run stretches like those outlined above.

My brother is a qualified fitness instructor and he has taught me the importance of stretching after each and every run. Without his input, however, I would probably have been a lot less disciplined!

More emphasis ought to be placed on stretching within the C25K programme so that everyone can get the most out of this form of exercise.

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Steven Shukor said on 10 December 2012

These stretches are not aimed at people with arthritis or osteoporosis.

Steven,
Live Well editor

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Eglysilann said on 27 November 2012

Lower back stretch, the hands should be placed at the back of the thigh to protect the joint. Not good for arthritic knees. Modify
Buttock stretch, same reason, not good for arthritics and even worse for osteoporosis.

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