Perhaps your goal this year is to run a race. It is best to have at least 5 weeks to start training for a 5K if you’ve never signed up before. But how do you start without getting hurt? Here are the stretches you’ll need to prevent running injuries!
Stretch Before You Run
Warm up with dynamic stretches. Static stretches were commonly used for warm ups, but recent research has shown that dynamic stretching is more effective before running. Dynamic stretching allows you to hold a stretch for a certain amount of time and move in and out of the stretch.
Warm up stretches for the lower extremity (and to get your heart pumping!):
Standing upright, kick your feet back into your bottom to give your quads a quick stretch.
Standing upright, swing your leg side to side in order to rotate your hips out.
Side Lunges (Dynamic)
Standing more than shoulder width apart, bend one leg so you are lunging to one side. Do one side 15 times, then do the other side 15 times.
While standing you are going to kick your opposite leg to your opposite hand while walking. Do 10 for each leg.
You will be in a runner’s stretch like shown and alternating from one foot to the other.
Stretch After You Run
Stretching after your work out is beneficial because your muscles are already warmed up and you can gain flexibility by holding the stretches for 30 seconds. (If you are 65 years or older, you should the hold the stretch for 60 seconds.) You want to make sure to stretch the same muscle groups you warmed up.
After running your IT Band (Iliotibial band) is more prone to getting tight. Use a foam roller to roll out your quadriceps, ITB, calves, and hamstrings.
Quad Roll Out
IT Band Roll Out
Calf Roll Out
Hamstring Roll Out
Stretches after running:
Supine Hamstring Stretch
- While lying on your back, put a strap around the arch of your foot and keep your knee straight.
- Pull your leg straight up until you feel a moderate stretch behind your thigh and hold 30 sec.
- If you do not have a strap or want to lay in the grass, stand up, put your heel on a step and bend forward to feel a stretch behind your thigh, then switch legs after 30 seconds.
Standing Quadriceps Stretch
- While standing, pull your foot back towards your bottom.
- You should keep the knee next to your opposite knee and push your hips forward.
- Hold this stretch for 30 seconds.
Side Lunge (Static)
Standing wider than hip width apart, lunge to one side holding the stretch statically for 30 sec. Then switch to the other side.
Standing Calf Stretch
- While standing and leaning against a wall, place one foot back behind you and bend the front knee until a gentle stretch is felt on the back of the lower leg.
- Your back knee should be straight the entire time.
- Hold for 1 minute, repeat twice.
Here’s a handy list to print, pin and share with a friend!
Ruth Meltzer, PT, DPT, OCS
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