fbpx Skip to main content

Running is a great way to get in shape, but you can do more harm than good if you don’t stretch properly before running. This article will discuss the dos and dont’s of stretching before running to stay healthy and injury-free. We will also provide some helpful tips on how to stretch correctly.

Dynamic & Static Stretching for Runners: What’s The Difference & Which is Better?

Most people are aware they should stretch before running, but many don’t know how to stretch correctly. This can lead to several different injuries such as pulled muscles, shin splints, and plantar fasciitis. The best way to avoid these injuries is to learn how to stretch before running.

In general, there are two types of stretches: static and dynamic. Static stretches are held for a certain amount of time, while dynamic stretches involve movement. So, which kind of stretch is best for runners? Let’s jump in.

What is Dynamic Stretching?

Dynamic stretching uses movement to elongate the muscles. This stretch is beneficial for runners because it helps warm up the muscles and prepare them for activity. Dynamic stretching is also great for improving range of motion and flexibility.

Some examples of dynamic stretches for runners include:

  • Arm circles: Stand tall with your feet shoulder-width apart and your arms by your sides. Slowly lift your arms up overhead and make small circles. Reverse the direction and continue for 10-12 reps.
  • Leg swings: Start by holding on to a sturdy object for balance. Swing one leg forward and back while keeping your body upright. Repeat 10-12 times before switching legs.
  • Trunk rotations: Stand tall with your feet shoulder-width apart and your arms out to the sides. Slowly rotate your trunk to the right, then to the left. Repeat 10-12 times.

What is Static Stretching?

Static stretching involves holding a position for a certain amount of time, typically 15-30 seconds. This stretch is beneficial for runners because it helps improve flexibility.

Some examples of static stretches for runners include:

  • Hamstring stretch: Lie on your back with one leg extended straight and the other leg bent at the knee. Use your hands to grab the back of your thigh and gently pull your leg toward your chest. Hold for 15-30 seconds before switching legs.
  • Calf stretch: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your hands on a wall or a sturdy object for balance. Place one leg behind the other, keeping your back straight. Lean into the wall, keeping your heel on the ground and your toes pointing up. Hold for 15-30 seconds before switching legs.
  • Quad stretch: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and place one hand on a wall or a sturdy object for balance. Bend your other knee and grab your ankle with your hand. Gently pull your leg toward your buttock. Hold for 15-30 seconds before switching legs.

Dynamic vs. Static Stretching: Which is Better for Runners?

So which one is better for runners? The answer may surprise you.

While both types of stretches benefit runners, dynamic stretching is generally better for warming up the muscles before running. Static stretching is typically done after running as a cool-down. While static stretching is still beneficial for runners, dynamic stretching should be done before running to help improve performance and prevent injuries.

5 Pre-Run Dynamic Stretches for Runners

Glute and Piriformis Activation

This stretch is essential to perform before running because it activates the glutes and gets them firing correctly. In addition, the glute muscles are responsible for hip extension, which is a key movement in running.

To do this stretch:

  1. Start lying on your back with both legs bent and your feet flat on the ground.
  2. Place your right hand behind your head and bring your right knee toward your chest.
  3. Using your left hand, reach through and grab hold of your right ankle.
  4. Gently pull your right leg toward your chest until you feel a stretch in the glute and piriformis muscles.
  5. Hold for 20-30 seconds before repeating on the other side.

Hamstring Sweep

This is a great dynamic stretch for runners because it targets the hamstrings, which are often tight in runners. This stretch will help improve flexibility in the hamstrings and prepare them for running.

To do this stretch:

  1. Start lying on your back with both legs bent and your feet flat on the ground.
  2. Place your right hand behind your head and bring your right knee toward your chest.
  3. Using your left hand, reach through and grab hold of your right ankle.
  4. Gently pull your right leg toward your chest until you feel a stretch in the back of the thigh.
  5. Hold for 20-30 seconds before repeating on the other side.

Ankling and Calf Activation

This stretch is great for runners because it targets the calves, which are important muscles in running. The calves help push off from the ground and provide power during running.

To do this stretch:

  1. Start by standing on your right leg with your left leg bent at the knee and your foot off the ground.
  2. Keeping your right leg straight, lift your left heel up toward your butt and hold for a count of two.
  3. Lower your left heel back down to the ground and repeat 10 times.
  4. Switch legs and repeat on the other side.

Leg Swings: Abductor and Adductor

This stretch is important for runners because it targets the abductor and adductor muscles responsible for stabilizing the legs during running.

To do this stretch:

  1. Start by holding onto a sturdy object for balance.
  2. Swing your right leg to the side and up as high as possible.
  3. Swing your leg back down and across your body in front of your left leg.
  4. Repeat 10 times on each side.

Leg Swings: Hamstring and Hip Flexor

This stretch is crucial for runners since it targets the hamstring and hip flexor muscles that help your legs extend when you run.

To do this stretch:

  1. Start by holding onto a sturdy object for balance.
  2. Swing your right leg backward and up as high as possible.
  3. Swing your leg back down and across your body in front of your left leg.
  4. Repeat 10 times on each side.

While there are many other dynamic stretches runners can do, these five are great places to start. Incorporating these stretches into your warm-up routine will help improve your running performance and decrease your risk of injuries.

5 Static Stretches to Do After Running

After your run, it’s essential to cool down; static stretching is the best way to do that. Static stretches help improve flexibility and range of motion in the muscles.

Calf Stretch

Your calves are constantly activated during your run. Hence making it vital to stretch them after your run to ensure they don’t become too tight.

To do this stretch:

  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart and place your hands on a wall in front of you.
  2. Keep your left leg straight, bend your right leg, and press your heel into the ground.
  3. Gently lean into the wall until you feel a stretch in the calf muscle.
  4. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat on the other side.

Hamstring Stretch

Your hamstrings are also load-bearing and power-generating muscles that need to be stretched after a run, so it’s essential to stretch them post-run.

To do this stretch:

  1. Sit on the ground with your legs extended in front of you and your feet flexed.
  2. Reach forward and grab hold of your ankles.
  3. Gently pull your chest toward your thighs until you feel a stretch in the back of the legs.
  4. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat as needed.

Quad Stretch

Your quads are responsible for extending your knees, so it’s important to stretch them post-run.

To do this stretch:

  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart and place your right hand on a wall or a chair for balance.
  2. Bend your left leg and grab hold of your ankle with your left hand.
  3. Gently pull your heel toward your butt until you feel a stretch in the front of the thigh.
  4. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat on the other side.

Reclined Figure-Four Stretch

The figure-four stretch is an excellent way to target the glutes and hips, which are key muscles in running.

To do this stretch:

  1. Lie on your back on the ground with both legs extended.
  2. Bend your right leg and place your right ankle on your left knee.
  3. Use your left hand to grab hold of your left thigh and pull it toward your chest until you feel a stretch in the glutes and hips.
  4. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat on the other side.

Iliotibial Band Stretch

The iliotibial band is a thick band of tissue that runs outside the thigh from the hip to the knee. It’s an essential stabilizer of the knee, and runners are susceptible to ITB syndrome, which is caused by inflammation of this tissue.

To do this stretch:

  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart and place your right hand on a wall or chair for balance.
  2. Cross your left leg in front of your right and bend your knees until you feel a stretch along the outside of the left thigh.
  3. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat on the other side.

Important Considerations for Stretching Before or After Your Run

Now that you know which stretches to do before and after your run, it’s essential to understand how to stretch correctly. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Always warm up before stretching: Warming up helps increase blood flow to the muscles, making them more pliable and less likely to be injured.
  • Don’t stretch cold muscles: Cold muscles are more likely to be injured, so it’s essential to warm up before stretching.
  • Don’t bounce when you stretch: Bouncing puts unnecessary stress on the muscle and can lead to injury.
  • Repeat each stretch 2-3 times. This ensures that the muscle is thoroughly stretched out.
  • Stop if you feel pain: Pain is your body’s way of telling you something is wrong, so if you feel pain when stretching, stop immediately and consult a doctor or physical therapist.

Conclusion

Stretching before and after your run is essential for preventing injury and keeping your muscles healthy. Be sure to warm up before stretching, stretch all the major muscle groups, and don’t bounce when you stretch. If you feel pain, stop immediately.

Nora

Leave a Reply

×