Stretching and Flexibility for Runners

A simple stretching routine for runners

Stretching can have a variety of benefits for runners when done properly. Before you try the following stretches, learn Why You Should Stretch After You Warm Up and read about the Most Common Running Injuries

Standing Calf Stretch

John P. Kelly/Iconica/Getty Images

For runners the calf, or gastrocnemius, muscle  is prone to a calf pull or strain. Do this stretch after a good warm up and at the end of your runs. While it's similar to the Achilles tendon heel stretch, but by keeping your knee straight you focus the stretch on the calf rather than the Achilles.

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Standing IT Band Stretch

IT band stretch
IT band stretch. Photo © E. Quinn

The iliotibial (IT) band is a tough group of fibers that run along the outside of the thigh. Iliotibial band syndrome is a common running injury that is generally due to inflammation and irritation of this band.

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Standing Quad Stretch

Quad Stretch
Quad Stretch. Photo © Stockbyte / Getty Images

The get used a lot in the running movement (particularly downhill running). There are a lot of ways to attempt to stretch the quadriceps, but if you keep your hips stable, this is a good one to do while standing.

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Seated Hamstring Stretch

Hamstring Stretch
Hamstring Stretch. Photo © Vladimir Pcholkin/ Getty Images

Because tightness in the low back and hamstrings is often related to muscle pain and stiffness in runners, stretch can help maintain good running form and reduce the risk of stiffness, pain, and injury.

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Hip Flexors and Psoas Stretch

Hip Flexor and Psoas Stretch
Hip Flexor and Psoas Stretch. Photo © Graham Mitchell / Getty Images

The hip flexors are often overused in runners. These muscles pull the legs up toward the trunk and runners rely on these muscles, particularly when running uphill, so keeping the limber is essential.

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Simple Shoulder Stretch

Shoulder Stretch
Shoulder Stretch. Photo © Photodisc / Getty Images

Runners sometimes forget to stretch their upper body, but this basic shoulder stretch can be done quickly, so it's a good choice. 

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Plantar Fasciitis Stretch

Plantar Stretch
Plantar Stretch. Photodisc / Getty Images

Runners who've had plantar fasciitis know how painful it is. BBy stretching the plantar fascia, a band of tough connective tissue that runs along the bottom of the foot to the heel you can help prevent such a debilitating injury.

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Advanced Piriformis Stretch

Piriformis Stertch - Pigeon Stretch
Piriformis Stertch - Pigeon Stretch. Photo © Noe Montes/ Getty Images

Runners can benefit from this advanced stretch, that is sometimes called the Pigeon Pose in yoga.

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Kneeling Quadriceps Stretch (Advanced)

Quad Stretch
Quad Stretch. Photo © Quinn Rooney / Getty Images

Another way to get the quads stretched out after a run is this kneeling quad stretch. 

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Quad Stretch with an Exercise Band (Advanced)

Quad Stretch with an Exercise Band
Quad Stretch with an Exercise Band. Photo © Hamish Blair / Getty Images

This quad stretch is best done after your runs when you have some time to relax and get the most out of this long, slow stretch.

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