By Danielle Kaufert
Senior Human Biology Exercise Science major, UWGB
Student Intern, MotionWorks Physical Therapy
Stretching is an important component of any fitness routine. Even though it can be very tempting to skip stretching after a run, it is an essential part of your workout. Some of the benefits to stretching include increased range of motion and muscle length, improved muscular coordination, and reduced soreness the day following your run. Stretching can also help reduce the risk of muscle strains and tears since they will help maintain the normal length a muscle should have for maximum performance. Having good lower extremity muscle flexibility can also prevent common running injuries, such as iliotibial band tendonitis, patellofemoral (knee) pain, and low back pain.
The following stretches target the muscles most utilized by runners. Add these running specific stretches to your current flexibility training program or follow this abbreviated routine if time is lacking after a run. All you need is 5-10 minutes at the end of your workout to stretch.
1. Bend your knee toward your chest, keeping your other leg extended on the floor.
2. Hold the back of the leg with both hands, and slowly straighten your knee, until you feel a stretch in your hamstring (back of the thigh)
3. Hold for 20-30 seconds. Don’t hold your breath. 4. Repeat on the opposite side.
1. Stand next to a wall or chair so you can hold on for balance if needed.
2. Bend one knee back and grasp your ankle with the same side hand.
3. Pull your leg back to feel a stretch in the front of your thigh.
4. Hold for 20-30 seconds.
5. Repeat with opposite leg.
1. Stand 12 inches away from a wall, holding on for balance.
2. Step one leg back, keeping your toes facing straight ahead.
3. Lean forward toward the wall, keeping your heel flat on the floor, until your feel the stretch in your calf.
4. Hold for 20-30 seconds.
5. Repeat with the opposite leg.
Iliopsoas (Hip Flexor) Stretch
1. Kneel on a soft surface (grass, mat, or pillow), and bring your other leg ahead with the knee bent and foot flat on the floor.
2. Lean your whole body forward through your legs, tipping your pelvis up toward the ceiling until you feel a stretch in the front of your hip.
3. Hold for 20-30 seconds.
4. Repeat on the opposite side.
Iliotibial (IT) Band Stretch
1. Lie on your side, bend the knee of your top leg, and grab just about the ankle with your hand.
2. Pull your leg straight back with your hand until you feel a stretch in the front of your thigh.
1. Place foot of your bottom leg on the thigh just above your knee of the upper leg and push down with your foot until you feel a stretch in the outer thigh of the top leg.
2. Hold for 20-30 seconds.
3. Repeat on the opposite side.