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Running Basics: Essential Post Run Stretches after a Run

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Running can do wonders for your body, you can reap so many benefits from just doing a small jog every day. It is the ultimate exercise for you, and the entirety of your organs, muscles, and mind. After you go out for a run you will have the strongest urge to lie down and rest your body. Even though you probably are exhausted, this is the opposite of what you need to be doing for yourself. Every time you go out on a run or complete a marathon, be it 5k or a full marathon, there are steps you need to take to avoid pulling a muscle. Learn the post run stretches vital to help your body cool down appropriately.

If you are used to running and resting right away, then you need to change your training method immediately. Without doing a cooling down session your muscles and tendons could easily tighten up and possible damage could be sustained. The best course of action would be to stay hydrated and perform some easy and quick stretches.

Table of Content

  • Why Post Run Stretches is Necessary
  • Areas to Focus on While Stretching
  • 9 Top Post Run Stretches to Try
  • The Benefits of Stretching for Runners

Why Post Run Stretches is Necessary

There are a multitude of exercises and post run stretches that you might have heard of before. So much information is available on the internet nowadays on what is the correct method to prepare for a race. The experts in physiotherapy and sports performance claim that stretching before a run is vital to preventing cramps. However, many other professionals claim that these exercises can actually diminish your performance!

Are you still thinking whether stretching after running is good or bad?

Then, the first thing you need to do is remember that there are tons of benefit of running stretches, whether before or after a run. Every movement you make flexes your muscles and aids in guiding you towards your goal. These very muscles and tendons are prone to damage, tears, sprains, and other injuries after intense or long runs. It is your job to make sure they stay in shape and do not get overworked.

Stretching is the best way to ensure that you are not harming yourself after a run, playing a sport, or even going to the gym. Take the necessary precautions or you may face dealing with irreversible damage.

post run stretch importance
Why Should you Flex those Muscles

Areas to Focus on While Stretching

  • Thigh muscles:

This is the point in your body that does most of the work while running. You will need to focus on your thighs while stretching to make sure they are being taken care of. Tend to the front of your thighs, inner thighs, and behind your knees.

  • Calf muscles:

Runners are easily prone to cramps. They are so common in the lower part of your leg and is a frequent complaint of most runners. The cause of the calf pain is not enough stretching after exercise and runs. To avoid discomfort tend to the calves indulge in stretching.

  • Lower back:

 Not too often is the lower back listed as a daily runner’s complaint. Nevertheless, this area of your back bears a lot of the impact felt while running. Make sure you do not overlook your back.

  • Arms, Shoulders, and Neck:

Following a long run, your neck can stiffen up and cause discomfort even when sitting entirely still. Stretch out your arms, roll your shoulders and practice neck rotations to avoid further pain.

benefits of post run stretches
Benefits of Post Run Stretches

9 Top Post Run Stretches Every Runner Should Do

Without further elaboration on the stretching after running benefits, let’s dive into some important stretching exercises for runners to try out after you complete a good run.

1. Hamstring Stretch

Target: Hamstrings

Hamstring pull can be a road blocker for runners. But this stretch will help you recover any kind of hamstring pain. Start this stretch with placing your right foot slightly in front of the left foot by 1 or 2 inches. Next you will have to lean forward by bending both knees bringing your hips and body forward as well. Bend your upper body over your right leg, to balance you can use your hands by holding your knee or thigh. Stay in this position for around 30 seconds and switch to your other leg.

Post run stretch
Reduce the Hamstring Pain

2. The Forward Hang

Target: Lower back, Glutes, Hamstrings, and Calves

Start this stretch with your legs apart at hip distance and with your knees bent ever so slightly. Next bend forward at your waist to touch the floor. Try to reach all the way down to hold your ankles and toes if you can, the most stretched out would be to reach behind your heels. Stay in this position for 1 minute while breathing in and out heavily to relax your muscles properly.

Post run stretch for runners
Forward Hang Stretch to focus on Glutes

3. Hip Flexors and Psoas Stretch

Target: Hips and the Psoas

Start with a simple lunge, where you keep one leg in front of the other and bend down, and hold on to the knee that is forward. Next you will want to lower the back knee to the ground and stretch the rest of your body forward. Push your hands down on the front knee, and bring your hips forward. Stay Keep this position for 30-40 seconds and then switch to your other leg.

hip flexor stretch
Time to Stretch those Hips (source)

4. The Standing Chest Stretch

Target: Chest and Shoulder Muscles

Start with your feet at shoulder length apart and intertwine your fingers and hold them behind your head while keeping your arms straight. As you keep your arms straight you now push your shoulder blades close together and point your elbows to the sides. This allows a complete stretch of your chest and shoulder. Stay this position for 30 seconds and then release slowly.

chest stretch
Chest Stretch

5. Standing Calf Stretch

Target: Calves

Start by facing a wall and putting both of your hands in front of you on it at chest level. Next step forward with your left leg towards the wall to stretch your right calf. Lean forwards against the wall and you should feel a slight stretch as you keep your right leg straight up. Hold this position for 30 seconds and then switch legs.

post run stretch
Goodbye Calf Pain

6. Standing Quad Stretch

Target: Quadriceps

Start by bending your left leg back and holding your heel behind your hip. Make sure your knees are in contact with each other. Keep your foot touching your butt  in place for 30 seconds. Try to remain up straight and push your chest forward. After holding this position then switch legs. Stand near a wall to hold for balance if you need to.

Post run stretch exercise
Stretch to work on quadriceps

7. Glute and Piriformis Stretch

Target: Gluteus maximus

This is one of the best stretching exercises after running. Start by crossing and raising your right ankle up to the left knee. Now lower your body in a squat or sit on a chair and hold this position for 30 seconds. If you can not retain balance, hold on to the wall. If you can start putting pressure on your right knee by lowering down more. Switch to the other leg.

post run stretch
Work on your Glutes (source)

8. Standing IT Band Stretch

Target: Iliotibial band

The IT band is a bunch of fibers running on the outside of the thighs and the IT band pain can stop the runners on the tracks for months. Start this stretch by standing up straight and crossing your left leg in front of your right. Try to hold this position and point your left toes up at 45 degree angles to the ground. Now lean forward and move to the right to feel a pull on your left leg. Stay in this position for 30 seconds and then switch your legs.

post run stretch for runners
Reduce the IT Band Syndrome

9. The Inner Thigh Stretch

Target: Adductors and groin

Start with keeping your back upright and widening your stance with your toes pointed outwards. Next bend your knees and slowly lower yourself down into a squat. Place your hands on your thighs for balance and to brace the discomfort. You will feel a pull on your inner thighs. Keep shoulders at ease and an upright spine all through the stretch and do not squat down too low. Hold this position for 30 seconds and then come up to the initial pose to switch legs.

post run stretch
Relax your Thigh Muscles (source)

The Benefits of Post Run Stretching for Runners

This list proves that post run stretches can truly be vital to your run. If you spend 5 minutes on stretching, you will yourself see the difference!

1. Flexibility

Why should you perform stretches after running? 

It is a very well known fact that stretching can make your muscles less rigid and able to bend better. After a run, your body would be feeling very wound up and restricted from what they can do normally. To bring them back to the way they were before the run, stretching would be a great option. This releases the tension in your muscles and brings them back to a relaxed state. If you develop a routine of post run stretches then your body will no doubt become more durable and flexible. This means you will be able to touch your toes, bend over, sit and stand for long, and even improve your running and other sports. Build endurance and strength for your legs and see the improvements on all your forthcoming runs.

2. Blood Circulation

Intense runs or workouts can really get your blood pumping mostly to provide your body with oxygen transported through the bloodstream. This increase in heart rate can be good for you when you are in motion but after your run, your body is required to calm down. Commonly called ‘cooling down’, this exercise involving most stretches helps bring down your heart rate and helps the rest of your body to reach a relaxed state once again. Circulation of blood to the important organs and muscles is restored, helping you start to repair any damage done by the run.

3. Removal of Lactic Acid

When you embark on your run, lactic acid is released in your body. This usually takes place into intense workouts or long runs and can make your muscles tired and sore. To rid your body of this deterrent, you need to practice frequent stretching before and after your run.

4. Energy Replenisher

When you stretch well you can actually start to feel a little more energized even if you just went through the most strained run ever. As you cool down from the stretching, the energy you feel and calmness is due to the release of endorphins in your brain. This hormone makes you feel relaxed and happy after a good long run and a round of post run stretches.

5. Pain Inhibitor

As you begin your stretching routine, you will also realize that the burn you feel after a run fades quicker than it did before. You cannot rid yourself entirely of this natural sensation following an intense run, but you sure can reduce its severity. Since your muscles can get rigid after a run or workout, you are prone to numerous casualties that may come your way. If you stretch after then you may relieve muscles and thereby reduce your chances of muscle tears like IT band, ACL, MCL or other injuries.

6. Enhanced Motion

Constricted muscles and joints are no joke when it comes to potential injury or reduced overall performance. When you stretch you are relieving exhausted muscles that need to be relaxed. Stretching drained muscles can strengthen them and improve mobility. This improves coordination essential for activities from everyday walking to dance.

7. Clear Head

Relaxing the muscles isn’t the only benefit of stretching post run. You can manage to calm down your entire body including the mind. This tackles stress, anxiety, and puts you in an overall better mood. One last benefit of post run stretching is that you can focus more closely on your body and pay attention to the little details you could have missed before.

We hope you enjoyed reading and remember to incorporate stretches into your pre run and post run routines. The benefits outweigh any other inconveniences you may come across.

Try out these post run stretches and find the right one for you! Let us know which ones worked out and which did not suit you in the comments below.

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