The Best Stretches for Runners
As the weather starts to warm up and people venture outside to run, it’s important to be aware of the potential injuries and keep your body healthy. While a great – and fun – exercise, running does stress the body, especially the lower extremities, which can lead to injuries such as plantar fasciitis, shin splints, and knee pain. One of the best ways to prevent these injuries is by incorporating stretching into your running routine.
Read below to find some of the stretches our team at Twin Boro Physical Therapy put together to help prevent injuries and improve your overall performance. Remember to also listen to your body and take breaks as needed. In this article, you will learn about stretching exercises for runners.
What are the Benefits of Stretching?
Stretching is an essential part of a runner’s training routine. It helps to increase flexibility and range of motion, which can help to reduce injury risk and maintain a healthy body. Twin Boro Physical Therapy’s stretching and exercises help to improve performance by helping you move through your range of motion more quickly and smoothly.
There are many benefits to stretching before and after running:
- It helps reduce muscle soreness from running by lengthening muscles and tendons that have been shortened due to repetitive movement over time (such as when running).
- It reduces joint stiffness caused by overexertion (such as when running).
- It can help reduce muscle soreness from running by lengthening muscles and tendons that have been shortened due to repetitive movement over time (such as when running).
- It helps reduce joint stiffness caused by overexertion (such as when running).
What’s the Difference Between Stretching Before and After a Run?
Stretching is an essential component of any workout routine, but the type of stretching you do before and after a run can differ in their benefits and effects on the body.
Pre-run stretching, also known as dynamic stretching or active warm up, involves movements that mimic the exercise you are about to perform. This type of stretching is meant to prepare the body for activity by increasing blood flow and flexibility and reducing the risk of injury. Examples of dynamic stretches include walking lunges, high knees, and leg swings. Dynamic stretching can help improve athletic performance by activating and priming the muscles for activity.
Post-run stretching, or static stretching, involves holding a position for a prolonged hold such as 30 seconds to increase muscle flexibility and reduce muscle soreness. This type of stretching can help cool down the body and promote relaxation after exercise.
While dynamic stretching before exercise is generally recommended to prevent injury, static stretching can be beneficial after the workout to improve flexibility and reduce muscle soreness. However, research suggests that static stretching before exercise may decrease performance and increase the risk of injury. Therefore, it is essential to incorporate both dynamic and static stretching into your workout routine, but in the appropriate order.
What Are the Best Stretches for Runners?
Stretching is essential to any running routine as it helps prevent injuries and increase flexibility. Here are stretches that can benefit runners:
- Quadriceps stretch: Stand upright and lift one foot behind you, holding your ankle with your hand. Pull your heel towards your buttock until you feel a stretch in your quadriceps.
- Hamstring stretch: Sit on the ground with one leg extended straight out in front of you and the other bent with the foot flat on the ground. Reach forward and grab onto your extended foot, pulling your toes towards your knee until you feel a stretch in your hamstring.
- Calf stretch: Stand facing a wall with your hands on the wall. Step one foot back and press your heel into the ground until you feel a stretch in your calf.
- Hip flexor stretch: Kneel on one knee with the other foot flat on the ground before you. Lean into the bent leg until you feel a stretch in your hip flexors.
- IT band stretch: Stand with one foot crossed behind the other and lean to the side of the crossed leg until you feel a stretch in your IT band.
- Glute stretch: Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat. Cross one ankle over the opposite knee and pull your leg towards your chest until you feel a stretch in your glutes.
- Abductor stretch: Sit on the ground with your legs spread apart. Lean forward and reach towards one foot until you feel a stretch in your abductor’s muscles.
- Back stretch: Lie with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground. Lift your hips towards the ceiling until you feel a stretch in your lower back.
- Shoulder stretch: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and lift one arm across your chest, using your other arm to pull it towards your body until you feel a stretch in your shoulder.
- Chest stretch: Stand facing a wall and place one hand on the wall with your arm straight. Rotate your body away from the wall until you feel a stretch in your chest.
These stretches benefit runners’ various muscles, including the quadriceps, hamstrings, calves, hip flexors, IT band, glutes, abductors, lower back, shoulders, and chest. Incorporating these stretches into your running routine can help increase flexibility, prevent injuries, and improve overall performance.
How Can Physical Therapy Help Runners?
In addition to stretching, runners can take another important step to avoid injury – work with a physical therapist. Physical therapy can help runners in various ways:
- Injury prevention: Physical therapists can assess runners’ form, muscle imbalances, and weaknesses to identify potential injury risk factors. They can then create a personalized exercise program to address these issues and prevent injuries.
- Rehabilitation: If a runner does get injured, physical therapy can help them recover faster and stronger. Physical therapists can provide targeted exercises and techniques to help runners regain their strength, range of motion, and endurance.
- Performance enhancement: Physical therapy can also help runners improve their performance by optimizing their form and movement patterns. This can lead to increased speed, agility, and endurance.
- Pain management: Runners who experience chronic pain or discomfort can benefit from physical therapy techniques such as manual therapy, dry needling, and ultrasound. These techniques can help reduce pain and inflammation and promote healing.
- Education: Physical therapists can also educate runners on proper stretching, warm-up and cool-down techniques, and injury prevention strategies.
Twin Boro physical therapy can be a valuable resource for runners to prevent injuries, rehabilitate from injuries, enhance performance, manage pain, and learn proper techniques. Incorporating physical therapy into a runner’s training program can help them stay healthy and strong and achieve their goals.
Why Choose Twin Boro for Running Physical Therapy?
Twin Boro Physical Therapy specializes in the care and prevention of musculoskeletal injuries including in the case of runners. We believe that running is a key part of your life, and we are committed to helping you get back on track after an injury or illness.
Our value proposition is to provide personalized care through our team of highly skilled runners and therapists. We want you to feel comfortable coming in for treatment–whether it’s a quick tune-up or more extensive rehabilitation.
We also offer various other services, including strength and core stability training. Our team will work with you to develop a personalized rehabilitation plan that works best for your specific needs. Book your appointment today!