I used to be so bad at stretching after a run and suffered quite a few bouts of sciatic nerve pain, plantar fascitis and just all out aches and pains. I think I finally learned my lesson, and before I get in the door after a run I take some time and do a few simple stretches to work the areas that are tight post run.
I know if I do not do any sort of stretching before my shoes come off, it just won’t get done unfortunately as life tends to happen again, so I have made it a point to do them right after I am done with my run.
There are a lot of different running stretches out there, but I try and keep it simple and highlight the areas that give me trouble.
I wanted to share them with you as they have really helped me not only recover, but prevent several previous injuries from returning. I can tell when my calf muscles tighten up and my Achilles Tendon is starting to scream at me trouble is just around the next bend and soon my plantar fasciitis will appear.
I also struggle with very tight hips and sciatic issues as well so trying to do yoga once a week in addition to some good periformis stretches are key for me.
Please note that I do all these stretches gently and slowly, it is never a good idea to force a stretch or bounce while stretching.
First this calf stretch where I drop my heels really helps my calfs from tightening up post run. Tight calf muscles can lead to all sorts of issues, plantar fasciitis among them so it is a good idea to make sure they are loose. Not only does it help prevent shin splints, flexible calf muscles can also increase the length of your stride, which is a good thing!
This next stretch really helps my plantar fasciitis as I can totally feel my Achilles Tendon loosen up. Sometimes I find myself needing to do it a few times a day, just watch so your shoes don’t scuff a white wall… OOPS!
Working our way up, the quads are a powerhouse as they help you lift your knees as you power through a run. This stretch also forces your hamstrings to contract, helping them become stronger.
Next my nemesis the piriformis, this little muscle that can be felt if one sits on a golf ball and positions it just right under their butt can cause so many issues, including sciatic nerve pain. This stretch is a MUST for me daily.
My lower back and hips need a good loosening up too and this simple stretch can totally be modified to get the depth needed to help release tension in the lower back from running.
Last but not least, the old school sit and reach stretch that helps release tension in the lower back and hamstrings. It can be done standing as well, however, there are some controversial discussions.
Based on your needs, you can customize what feels best and what your body needs to recover. These stretches are just an example of what I do and are not to be used to diagnose or treat any medical issues you may have. Always see your doctor if you have any injuries or are in pain as well as before starting any type of exercise.
Do you stretch after a run? What are your “go-to” stretches?