Stretching before and after a run.

We all know we should be doing some but are we doing the right ones and are we doing them right? What are the best stretches to do before and after running?

Do you know why you should stretch? Did you know that doing the right exercises could help improve your performance in your next run and also help you recover better?

The key in finding the right exercises to improve our performance when we run is to look at more dynamic movements. The static stretches you’ll see everyone doing at parkrun or before races won’t make any difference.

Why should we stretch?

I believe that stretching should form part of a longer warm up routine rather than just done alone. The problem runners have is they put their shoes on, go out the door and start running as soon as they’ve found a signal on their watch and the first mile becomes the warm up, usually done at a quicker pace.

The point of a warm up is to get the heart beating faster and warm up the muscles for what we’re about to do. To create something effective, let’s focus on getting the joints moving better. We’re going to be using the ankles, hips and back whether we like it or not so it makes sense to create exercises that will loosen them up.

The muscles will become warm as a result of this.

We will notice a positive difference in our run if we’re able to increase the range of movement at the joints in the warm up.

Stretches Before Running

Here are some exercises I recommend:

It’s important to start with smaller movements then do some bigger dynamic movements with some running. This is so you’re getting the body used to the movements and not trying to push too much too soon or overstretch, which can often happen.

If you can allow yourself time to warm up, maybe 3-4 minutes of these exercises along with a few minutes of slow running, you should begin to feel a lot lighter when you get into your regular pace.

Stretches After Running

How often do you cool down properly and stretch after a run? It’s ok, I’m guilty of not always doing this either.

The biggest problem we do as runners is to stop running as we stop our watches when we’ve reached our target distance, take a selfie so we can share on social media (obviously!) and go grab our shower.

Stopping dead after a run is where the lactic acid kicks into the muscles and gives us stiff legs later in the day. Instead, slow down to a jog then walk but keep moving.

Keeping moving and easing off the pace will help prevent the acid build up in the muscles. You should aim to factor in around 6 – 10 minutes of slow jogging then these exercises. It’s almost like a reverse order of what you did in the warm up so going from faster work to slower work. Stretches should be slower, flowing movements rather than trying to get the biggest stretch from the muscles.

Try these exercises before and after your next run and see what happens. Comment below this post and let me know how you get on. I am really interested to hear what you think and your experience doing them.

Are you running as well as you can or seeing the progress you want from the training you’ve been doing? Would you like some exercises that are more specific to how you move and to help you run better or move away from injury? Check out my running coaching and get in touch. I’d love to hear from you.