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Stretch It Out: A Runner’s Guide to Stretching


As a runner, stretching has become as much a part of our routine as lacing up our shoes. Preparing the muscles for the trials of the track, or even the open road, is just as important as the run itself. The best part? The stretching game isn’t one-size-fits-all. You’ve got dynamic stretches, static stretches, and everything in between, each bringing something unique to the table. So, let’s take a closer look at why us runners should be giving stretching the time of day, which stretches hit the sweet spot, and the best time to stretch for optimal performance.

Understanding the Significance of Stretching for Us Runners

Avoiding Injuries: The world of running is fraught with sudden halts, quick changes in direction, and a whole variety of unpredictable terrains. Stretching equips our joints with increased flexibility and range of motion, making us more resilient and less injury-prone. Regularly giving your muscles a good stretch can keep the all-too-common shin splints, the dreaded runner’s knee, and the pesky IT band syndrome at bay.

Amping Up Performance: Believe it or not, stretching regularly can actually rev up your running

performance. A good stretch works on improving your posture and making your strides more efficient. Imagine your muscles as rubber bands – the more you stretch them, the more effective they become. The result? Your running becomes smoother and less of an energy drain.

Speeding Up Recovery: The after-run stretch is a game-changer. It flushes out the lactic acid build-up that’s responsible for muscle soreness and stiffness. Not just that, stretching also improves circulation, enabling oxygen and nutrients to reach your muscles quicker and more effectively.

Enhancing Comfort: Now, stretching isn’t all work and no play. It also makes the run more comfortable and enjoyable. It eases muscle tension, making you feel more relaxed, which could lead to longer, more satisfying runs.

Stretching Techniques Every Runner Should Know

Quadriceps Stretch: Stand straight, bend one knee, and hold the top of your foot behind you. This stretch zeroes in on your quadriceps, the key players in knee extension during running.

Hamstring Stretch: Whether you’re standing or sitting, extend one leg and reach for your toes. This targets your hamstrings, vital for knee flexion and hip extension when you’re pounding the pavement.

Calf Stretch: Stand with one foot in front of the other, pushing the heel of your back foot into the ground. This stretch is a lifesaver for your calf muscles, the shock absorbers each time your foot lands.

Hip Flexor Stretch: Get down on one knee and push your hips forward. This is a godsend for your hip flexors, a bunch of muscles that can tighten up from long periods of sitting or the repetitive motion of running.

IT Band Stretch: Stand tall, cross one leg over the other, and lean towards the side of your back foot. This stretch focuses on the iliotibial band, a common culprit for lateral knee pain in runners when it gets too tight.

The Ideal Time to Stretch

Pre-run: Before you hit the track, give dynamic stretching a go. These are stretches that involve moving parts of your body, gradually increasing your reach or speed. Think leg swings, high knees, and butt kicks. They’re a great way to warm up those muscles and boost your range of motion.

Post-run: After your run, it’s time for some static stretches. These are stretches where you hold a position for about 20-30 seconds. They help elongate your muscles, release tension, and ramp up your flexibility.


A balanced running routine is incomplete without a good stretching regime, tailored to meet the runner’s unique needs. Sticking to a regular, mindful stretching routine can translate into tangible improvements in performance, injury prevention, faster recovery, and an overall more comfortable running experience. Remember, it’s crucial to listen to your body during these stretches – if there’s pain, it could signal potential issues. And hey, don’t forget to relish the journey of running and the burst of life it brings with it!

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This article was written by our team of specialist therapists at Perfect Balance Clinic. If you would like more specific advice about how our team can help you with this condition or symptoms you may be having, please complete the contact form below and one of the team will get back to you shortly.

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