Flexibility Series for Runners: Part 4: The Final Stretch

This last installment in this series is all about static stretching. It’s my favorite of all mobility training. Maybe it’s because it calls to the inner gymnast in me. Maybe because it feels so good! But static stretching is the icing on the cake of any workout for me, as long as I take the time to do this!

Ideally, this is done after some type of fascia releasing modality as I reviewed with you in part 3 of my series about foam rolling. However, there are times this may not be possible or convenient after a workout, for example, after a group run away from your home. I actually carry a stick roller and a roll-up picnic blanket in my car to use after a run to which I have traveled. 

Static stretching is intended to lengthen muscles and improve overall flexibility and range of motion. You get into a position to a comfortable end range, then hold for at least 30 seconds. Try to do 2-3 reps per stretch. Some stretches I like to hold for longer, more like a yoga pose. Static stretching should not be painful. 

Speaking of yoga, taking a class is absolutely complementary to your flexibility training, and I firmly believe it can be hugely beneficial for a number of aches and pains!

Some of my favorite stretches on the floor are as follows:

  • Half Cow Pose
This I try to hold for at least a minute, once with my left leg on top, once with my right leg on top. I thank my friend and yogi Amanda Myers for this stretch!
  • Hip Flexor to Hamstring/Calf Stretch
Start in a deep lunge. Here, I’m stretching my left hip flexors, transitioning to stretching my right hamstrings and calf muscles. Try to hold each position for about 30 seconds.
  • Glute Stretch
Hold for about 30 seconds on each side.

If I can’t sit or get onto the ground after a run, for example, after a big group run, I have a series of stretches I do in standing:

  • Quad stretch
Hold for about 30 seconds, using a stationary object to hold onto or touch for support if needed.
  • Hamstring stretch
Hold for 30 seconds each leg.
  • Glute stretch
You’re in a bit of a squat here. Cross your leg over your opposite knee, and add pressure with your hand for further stretch. Hold onto or touch something sturdy for support. Hold for 30 seconds each leg.
  • Calf stretch
Press your toes into a wall, curb, etc. and lean forward to a comfortable stretch. Try shifting your hips a bit to each side to stretch different portions of your calf muscles. Hold for 30 seconds. This is also a handy mid-run stretch if needed.

I hope you find these helpful! Maintaining flexibility is an important part of your injury prevention and recovery routine. Taking a few minutes, a few times a week, to focus on maintaining and improving your flexibility can improve your overall comfort with running.

Want to learn more? Look back at the rest of the series! Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

Do you take the time to do static stretches after a run? What are some of your favorite stretches? I’d love to hear about it! As always, I hope you all are safe and healthy. Happy running! 

*I offer this advice as a courtesy, and bear no responsibility for injuries incurred if you take my advice. Please consult your doctor if injured.*

Published by annecreates

I am a physical therapist, wife, mom, runner, artist, and vegan. I'm passionate about helping others find wellness! Assistant Coach for the Sports Backers Marathon Training Team. Current ambassador for: Nuun, Switch4Good, and Foot Levelers Blue Ridge Marathon 2021.

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