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seven simple stretches for runners

exercises to add to YOUR POST-RUN ROUTINE

Try these gentle moves after your training runs to help guard against aches and pains and keep you feeling supple. They target the main muscles that you use when running. Remember, always take it slowly and don’t force yourself into positions that you find uncomfortable – particularly if you are new to running and exercise in general!


1. Hip flexors

Take a large step forward with your left leg, bending you knee and allowing your right knee to rest on the floor, with the front of your foot facing down. Bring your torso upright and curl your tailbone under – then gently press your right hip forwards. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds then switch leg.

2. Hamstrings

Place your right foot on a support such as a chair (at mid-shin to mid-thigh height depending on your flexibility) with your leg straight. Your support leg should be perpendicular to the floor with foot forwards. Hinge forwards from your hips until you feel a stretch along the back of your thigh. Don’t hunch over. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds then switch legs.


3. Gastrocnemius (upper calf)

Take a big step forwards with your left foot, bending your knee. Keep your right leg straight, and point both sets of toes directly forwards. Now gently press your right heel down into the ground. Keep your torso upright and don’t arch your back. If you don’t feel a stretch, take your right foot further back. To accentuate the stretch, visualise ‘grabbing’ the ground with your toes. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds then switch legs.


4. Soleus (lower calf)

Following on directly from the gastrocnemius stretch (above), take a half step forwards with your left leg and bend both your knees, keeping your left heel on the floor. Adjust your weight over the front and back feet until you feel a stretch along the lower part of your left calf. Switch legs.


5. Quadriceps (front of thigh)

Stand tall. Take your right foot into your right hand, bringing it towards your bottom. Keep your knees together (don’t let the right leg splay to the side) and your torso straight. It doesn’t matter if your knee is slightly in front of the supporting leg – this just indicates quad tightness. Don’t hunch your shoulders. Switch legs.


6. Gluteals & piriformis (bottom & hip rotators)

Lie on the floor and take hold of your left knee, drawing it towards your chest. Feel a stretch in your bottom. Now bring your knee towards your right shoulder and, taking hold of your ankle, gently draw your shin to the right – you should feel this in the hip rotator muscles, deep in the left hip. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds then switch legs.

Erector Spine

7. Erector spinae (lower back)

Lie with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor, close to your bottom. Open your arms at shoulder height and, keeping your shoulders on the floor, let your knees drop down to the right. Draw them back to the centre and drop to the other side. Do this a few times and finish by hugging your knees into your chest.