Even the smallest jog can give your muscles a workout, so it’s important to take the time to stretch them out before and after you set out. With so many different stretches out there though, knowing which ones will help stretch your muscles properly pre and post-running can be a little confusing.
Health and Wellbeing Queensland Chief Executive, Dr Robyn Littlewood, shares her best pre and post-run stretches.
When stretching for running, it’s important to perform active stretches before training to warm your muscles up and static stretches afterwards to cool down.
- Front-to-back leg swings
Front-to-back leg swings engage the hip flexor and glute muscles.
To perform the stretch, brace yourself against something sturdy, stand on one leg and swing the other leg forward and back. Do this 20 times with each swing building until your leg is close to its full range of motion, then switch legs.
- Side-to-side leg swings
Side-to-side leg swings engage the hip abductor and adductor muscles.
To perform the stretch, brace yourself against something sturdy, stand on one leg and swing the other across your body then back out to the other side. Do this 20 times with each swing building until your leg is close to its full range of motion, then switch legs.
- Windmill Lunge
Windmill lunges engage the pelvis, abdominals and obliques.
To perform the stretch, step out to the right with your right leg, coming into a narrow side lunge. Twist your torso to the right, bringing your left hand to your right foot. Push off your right foot to return to standing upright, then repeat twisting to the other side. Do this 20 times on each side.
- Walking lunges
Walking lunges engage the quadriceps, glutes and hamstrings.
To perform the stretch, take a large step forward with your right leg, and bend the knee until your thigh is parallel to the floor and the knee is aligned with your ankle. Push back upward, bring your left foot even with your right, then step forward with the left.
- Toe touch
The toe touch engages the hamstring muscles.
To perform the stretch, stand with your feet together and with your knees straight but not locked, then bend at the hips slowly lowering your head towards your knees while keeping your back as straight as possible. Reach your fingers towards your toes and relax your neck. Hold for 30 seconds, then rise slowly.
- Knee hug
The knee hug stretches out the back muscles and relieves tension.
To perform the stretch, lie down with your back flat on the floor. Slowly bend your knees upwards and bring them close to your chest. Grasp your shins and pull them in gently and hold for 30 seconds, then slowly lower your legs back down.
- Kneeling hip stretch
Kneeling hip stretch engages the hamstring and hip flexor muscles.
To perform the stretch, plant your right foot in front of you and assume a kneeling position while keeping your knee at a right angle. Press your hips forward while keeping your back straight, and hold the position for 30 seconds. Do the same for your other leg.
- Standing quad stretch
The standing quad stretch engages the quadricep muscles.
To perform the stretch, stand with your legs together then bend your left leg bringing your heel towards your bum and grasp your foot with your left hand. Pull your foot up while pushing your knee forward so that the leg stretches. Hold for 30 seconds, then switch legs.