I know quite a few runners that don’t stretch at all, which surprises me. I think most stretch before a run, but few stretch after a run – when it is just as important. Before the run, most people realize they should warm up and get limber to avoid injury. What most people don’t realize is that stretching after a run can really help you repair your muscles quicker.
The Benefits of Stretching
There are a lot of benefits to stretching, especially after a run. The first benefit is that stretching can increase your muscle’s flexibility. After working out a muscle, it can become tight and sore. Stretching loosens the muscle and helps improve blood flow to the area. The result is a muscle that is less sore and will repair itself quicker.
With that being said, stretching after a workout also helps with injury prevention. After a run, you are going to be walking around (even if just to your car or house). And guess what, since the muscles are so worn, you could still hurt yourself just walking afterwards. That is why it is so important to loosen up and relax your muscles when you’re done.
How to Stretch
There are a few common stretches that runners like to use since they really focus on the core muscles being used.
Quad Stretch: The quad stretch helps your quads on the front of your leg. The easiest way to stretch these muscles is to hold your foot behind you. When you do this stretch, just make sure that you stand up straight.
Hamstring Stretch: Your hamstring is the muscle on the back of your thigh, and it can get a workout during your run. The two main ways to stretch this muscle are either standing or sitting. To stretch standing, cross your legs and try to touch your toes. To stretch sitting, sit down with your legs stretched out in front of you and try to reach for your toes one leg at a time.
Calf Stretch: Finally, if you’ve ever run, you know you need to stretch your calves. The easiest way is to keep your foot flat and lean against something until you feel the stretch.
Do you stretch before or after running?