the best stretches for runners
You love to run, but sometimes running doesn't love you back. Your sore lower back, knees or hips can slow you down, or worse, stop you in your tracks. Here are my must-do stretches for runners of all 'walks' of life...
Standing Calf Stretch on Step
Standing with the ball of one foot on a yoga block, foam roller or small step. Position your weight evenly on both legs, and press the heel of the raised foot gently toward the floor, until a stretch is felt in the back of the lower leg. Hold for up to a minute before repeating on the opposite side. If you're prone to calf spasms, simply press the heel down slowly and release gently after a few seconds, then repeat several times.
Standing Tailor's Squat Stretch
A standing version of Thread-the-Needle, this stretch is a bit easier to do while in line at Starbucks after your run...
Stand with feet hip width. Cross one ankle over the opposite knee and flex your ankle (toes point to same knee) -- your lower body should look like a number 4. Stick your bum right back behind you and do your best one-legged squat until you feel a stretch in the side of your buttock and into the outer thigh. You may want to hold on to a counter or the back of a chair for support. To increase the stretch, fold yourself over your leg so that your torso rests on or near your thigh. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat on the opposite side.
Advanced Runner's Lunge Stretch a.k.a. The Best Hip Stretch EVER
Chronic tension in the muscles at the front and sides of the hips can contribute to low back pain and poor running form. This stretch is particularly helpful for hip flexor contracture and ITB syndrome when combined with glute strengthening exercises. Changing toe positions of the back foot helps target different muscle fibers for a more complete stretch!
Stand in front of a chair, take a small step back with the leg you want to stretch, then place the opposite foot onto the chair so that you are standing in a lunge position with the forward leg elevated. The toes of both feet should be facing forward. Press your hips forward and tuck your tailbone under, increasing the stretch felt in the front of the hip of the back leg. Hold for thirty seconds, then return to standing.
Repeat the stretch again, this time with the toes of the back foot pointed out away from your mid-line (at about 45 degrees.) The stretch should be felt along the bikini line and into the inner thigh. After 30 seconds, return to standing again and reposition the toes of the back foot pointing in toward your mid-line . Being careful not to lock the knee, once again place the opposite foot on the chair in front of you and press your hips forward, tucking the tailbone. This time the stretch will be felt along the front and outside of the hip. Release after 30 seconds and repeat all three stages on the opposite hip.
Thank you to Alycia Duff-Bergeron, Registered Massage Therapist, for this contribution. Alycia is a respected massage therapist with more than 6 years of experience treating women and men, including pregnant & postpartum women and Belly Bootcamp clients. Babies are welcome alongside mommies in Alycia’s private clinic, Anatomica Massage Therapy.