I can’t emphasise enough how important it is to stretch post-workout – I learned from personal experience and try to share my stories with others so they don’t make the same mistakes I did!
Quite a few years ago (wow, almost 10 now!) I used to run… A LOT. It all started with training for a Cancer Research 5km run and a few years later, I had a handful of 5km and 10km races and two half marathons under my belt. My 2nd half marathon left me with a few injuries and aches, the main one being my left knee. Walking the next day was agony and I made an appointment to see a Physiotherapist, who told me my knee wasn’t injured but the muscles around it had been neglected and were tight! And also, some muscles including my glute medius were weak – I hardly did any strength training but that’s a whole blog for another day.
It’s important to work on all round fitness because all aspects compliment each other e.g. strength training and flexibility (stretching & foam rolling) compliments running.
It took a few weeks of prescribed rehab – stretching, foam rolling and strength training – before I could workout again. By then, I’d discovered strength training and other forms of exercise, I decided to stop running completely and didn’t pick it back up again for a very long time – again, that’s a topic for another day.
The point of all this is to tell you, beg you to PLEASE PLEASE stretch after you workout. Don’t make the “I don’t have enough time” excuse, finish your workout 10 minutes early and STRETCH!
RUNNING recruits a lot of muscles, which need to be stretched out to reduce risk of injury amongst other benefits. These muscles include quads (front of thighs), calves, glutes and muscles around the hips (flexors, extendors and rotators).
If you really are pressed for time and have ended your run 5-10 minutes early, here are three stretches you MUST include in your post-run stretch routine, which will target the important muscles. I’ve focused on standing stretches, which are great if you run outdoors so you don’t have to worry about getting your clothes dirty. Spend 60 – 90 seconds on each stretch (on each side) and finish off with a full body stretch – stand on your toes, extend your arms overhead and reach as far up as you can.
Be aware these aren’t the only stretches I recommend but they are a good start.
Hamstrings, Calves, Hips & Lower Back
Wide Legged Forward Bend
Progression: Include a twist to intensify the stretch.
Wide Legged Forward Bend With Twist
Quadriceps & Hip Flexors
- Pull your heel to your butt and push your hips forward.
- Keep your thighs pressed together and knee pointing down towards the floor.
- Do this close to a wall, in case you need it for balance.
Standing Quad Stretch
Hips, Glutes & Lower Back
- Stand on your right leg, place left ankle on right knee. Sit back and down into a squat. If possible, push your left knee down to open the hips and deepen the glute stretch.
Regression: Try this lying on your back or seated.
- Stand next to a wall for support, if needed,
Figure Four Stretch
As I stated earlier, finish off with a full body stretch. Stand on your toes and stretch your hands up towards the sky/ceiling. I love this stretch, especially first thing in the morning when I roll my lazy backside out of bed.
These simple time-saving stretches can make a difference, trust me and learn from my experience.
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