6 Stretching Exercises Every Runner Needs To Know

Stretching exercises enable your joints to function at full range of motion, decrease the risk of injury or soreness, and promote recovery. You can loosen up before a run with dynamic stretches, and bring your heart rate down after a run with static stretches. We’ll list both of these types of stretches for runners below, broken down by what part of the body they utilize.  

6 Stretching Exercises For Runners

Quad Stretches

Pre-run Exercise: Walking Lunges

To do walking lunges start by standing with your feet together, then take a large step forward with one foot. Squat down so that your front knee is bent to form a 90 degree angle, and your back knee is almost touching the ground. Hold this position for a few seconds and then alternate legs. “Walk” around doing these lunges.

Post-run Exercise: Standing Quad

From standing up straight, bend one leg at the knee and bring it behind you with your hand. Keep your knee pointing down and use the hand on the same side you’re stretching. Hold this position for 30 seconds, then switch legs and repeat.

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Hamstring Stretches

Pre-run Exercise: Inverted Hamstring Stretch

To do this stretching exercise, stand up straight and lift one leg behind you. As you lift that leg, slowly bend your upper body down. Try to touch your toes and hold this position for a few seconds. Repeat the exercise on both legs.

Post-run Exercise: Lying Hamstring Stretch

Start by lying flat on your back on the floor. Bring one knee toward your chest while keeping the other leg fully extended on the floor. You can either straighten the raised leg or keep your knee bent if it’s easier. While keeping both hips on the floor, pull your raised leg toward your body. Hold this position for 30 seconds and repeat with the other leg.

Calf Stretches

Pre-run Exercise: Calf Raises

Place the balls of your feet on the edge of a curb and let your heels hang over the edge. Slowly raise your body up on your toes and then lower yourself until your heels come below the curb. Hold for a couple seconds, then raise your body up again and repeat.

Post-run Exercise: Wall Stretch

Stand a few inches away from a wall and place the ball of one foot against the wall. Keep your heel on the floor and keep both legs straight. Flex your foot until you feel your calf stretching and hold the stretch for 30 seconds. Switch feet and repeat.    

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Research shows that doing stretching exercises before and after a run is extremely important for your physical health and safety.
Each of the stretching exercises above targets and benefits a different muscle that runners use the most. Add these quad stretches, hamstring stretches, and calf stretches to your workout routine to get the most out of your runs!
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