One of the most important ways to prevent running injuries is to stick to a good stretching program before and after a run. Having a few reliable stretches that you perform regularly can help you both warm up and cool down your muscles, allowing for a smoother recovery process. Here I’ll give a few tips on 3 stretches that I regularly recommend for my running clients.
In order to make it easier to understand, I’ve posted a video that can be used as a guideline on how to perform each stretch:
As the video is quite self explanatory, I’ll just highlight a few tips for each stretch:
Diagonal Hamstring Stretch
Be sure to keep your back as straight as possible while performing this maneuver. Also, the pull should be felt on the hamstring. If you feel a stretch in your back muscles, you’ve gone a bit too far.
Standing Calf Stretch
Again, be sure to keep your back straight while doing this stretch. As you can see in the video, the use of something under the toes of the back leg, such as a half foam roller or a book, would help, but it is not required to get a good stretch. You can get a perfectly good stretch even if your back foot was flat on the ground.
Dynamic Hip Flexor Stretch
Once again, try to keep your back as straight as possible. Also, only turn your body until you feel a pull on the front of the hip of your back leg and the sides of your body. You should NOT feel a stretch on the knee of your back leg. If you do, you’ve gone a bit too far.
As for how many times to do each stretch? I usually recommend to my runners to do these stretches for 5 reps on each side, 30 second holds for each rep. Doing these approximately 30 minutes before your run as a warmup and also immediately after would be optimal. And just remember, these are just 3 suggestions for stretches that you can do. There are various others that can be done, and I always say to my clients that you should always do what YOU are comfortable doing.
Dr. James Pumarada is a Physical Therapist and co-owner of Complete Physical Rehabilitation, a Physical Therapy practice based in Elizabeth and Jersey City, NJ. As a Sports Therapy Certified Specialist, he has been specifically guiding and training runners of all experience levels for over 15+ years.