Running Stretches

Prevent injury and improve performance by warming up with running stretches.

Stretching is a vital part of your running training. Even a short jog works your muscles, so experts recommend stretching both before and after training.

Skipping your post-running stretches can decrease your mobility over time. Stretching keeps your muscles flexible so they can keep their fullest range of motion.

Most physicians recommend a warm-up before stretching and running. Your muscles respond better to the stress of running when they’ve been warmed up properly. It can be as simple as walking for 3 – 5 minutes, to get the blood flowing.

running stretches

Benefits of Running Stretches

Improved Flexibility

While running you use the same muscles repetitively. This means they are getting both stronger and tighter. When you stretch your muscles, you reduce the stiffness of the dominant muscles and strengthen the secondary muscles. This ensures a proper muscle balance.

Improved Range of Motion

As you age, your joints lose range of motion. One way to overcome this is by stretching regularly. Before and after running are the perfect times to stretch to improve your body’s range of motion.

Running Stretches Decreases Soreness

If you experience muscle soreness from a recent training run, stretching can help relieve some of this discomfort. When you have an injury, the muscles tighten up as a protective response. But stretching tight muscles, soreness and muscle pain can be alleviated.

Lowers Risk of Injury

Stretching before running helps prevent injury by increasing blood flow to the muscles, warming them up, and decreasing any tightness they might have to prevent a strain or a tear. If you stretch a muscle too far, it can become strained or torn. But if you stretch and increase the range of motion of a muscle, the probability of injury decreases.

proper running form
Stretching and flexibility can help with running form, read
Is There a Proper Running Form? for more info.

Different Kinds of Running Stretches

There are two broad categories when it comes to stretches, static and dynamic stretches. Both have merit and can help keep you strong, flexible, and healthy.

Static Stretching

Static stretches are when you push your muscles as far as you can and then hold them for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Common examples include bending over to touch your toes. Reach down as far as you can go, then hold that pose for as long as you can.

Dynamic Stretching

Static and dynamic stretches differ slightly, but both are great for warm-ups and cool-downs. Dynamic stretching is when you move your muscles or joints in certain motions for a set amount of repetitions. An example would be swinging your arms back and forth 20 times.

Which Running Stretches are Best?

Static and dynamic stretching are beneficial in their own way. Neither one is better than the other. There are continuous debates in sports medicine and research about which type is the best for runners. A good rule of thumb is dynamic stretches are most beneficial before a training run. And static stretches are most beneficial after a training run.