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Best Stretches for Runners
Limit Injuries and Increase Flexibility by Stretching


Running requires repetitive motion and puts a lot of stress on the body. The repetition over a limited range of movement can cause tightness and shortening of certain muscles, which can lead to injury. Stretching regularly can help increase flexibility and mobility, keeping soreness, strains and pulls at bay. 
The gastrocnemius and soleus muscles are located in the back of the calves. They are prone to injury, especially when repetitive movement and lack of flexibility cause tightness. Try these stretches to keep your calves free from strains and soreness.

Soleus Stretch: Place both hands flat against a wall and place one foot about two feet behind you. Place your other foot between your other leg and the wall with the knee bent. Keeping your back straight and your heels flat on the ground, lean toward the wall and bend knees into a slight squat. Hold for about ten seconds, keeping your buttocks tucked in. Switch legs and repeat.


Gastrocnemius Stretch: Begin in the same position as the Soleus stretch but with hands shoulder width apart on the wall. Keep heels on the ground and, using your hips, lean into the wall. Hold for 30 seconds, switch legs and repeat.


      The quadriceps are located on the front of the thigh and play a key role in the hips and knees when running, walking, cycling and climbing. A lack of balance in flexibility between the quads and hamstrings is a common cause of injury, but stretching regularly can help. 

Quad Stretch: Begin standing on one foot and bend your other knee to bring your foot behind you, near your buttocks. Grab your ankle and stand up straight. Hold for 30 seconds, switch legs and repeat.


      The hamstrings are located at the back of the thigh and are another area where injury is common. These muscles are critical for running and a pulled hamstring is very common and very painful. You can reduce your susceptibility to hamstring pulls by maintaining a proper balance of flexibility and strength.

Hamstring Stretch: Lying on your back, bend one knee and put your foot on the floor. Keep your pelvis straight and raise the other leg straight up. Gently pull your leg toward your head as far as you can without discomfort, holding your leg at the lower thigh. Hold for 30 seconds, switch legs and repeat. 

      The hip flexors are a group of muscles situated on the front of the hips right below the hip bones. The actions of these muscles include pulling the knees and thighs up and forward, flexing the hips and stabilizing the lower body, making them essential to running. The combination of explosive movements (such as short sprints) and tightness in these muscles can easily lead to strains and other injuries, as can repetitive use. Keeping them flexible will give you an edge.

Hip Flexor Stretch: Start in a lunge position and lower your body so that back knee is on the floor and front knee is bent at a 90 degree angle. Tilt hips forward-you should feel the stretch in the hip of your back leg. Raise the arm on the same side as back leg and reach toward opposite side. Hold for 20 seconds, switch sides and repeat.

           

A good stretching regiment can ensure that running is an enjoyable and pain-free activity. Talk to your doctor for more information and remember never to stretch beyond your comfort level. Trying to stretch muscles that arenít warmed up or stretching to the point of pain can actually cause injury.

 

 

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