Compromise your running workout by skipping stretching? No way! Enhance it. By taking a few minutes each day for these gentle, simple and specific stretches, you will empower your running.
Post-run, repeat each of these stretches three times.
Gentle Hamstring Stretch
Allow your right leg, with a slightly bent knee, to bear the weight of your body. Rest your hands on your right thigh for support. Extend left leg out in front of you, resting on heel with toes up, while lowering your bottom slowly until you feel a stretch in the back of your left leg, Hold for a count of five before switching legs.
The Flamingo: Quadriceps Stretch
Using a wall for support as needed, stand on your right leg with the left one bent behind you (think flamingo). Grasp your left ankle, or very top of your foot (not your toes, as this mainly stretches your foot), and stretch your left heel as close to your bottom as possible. Remain standing upright and hold for a count of five. Switch legs.
The Pretzel: Lower Back and Hips Stretch
Sit cross-legged on the floor. Bring your left leg up and over the right and plant left foot flat on the floor so now your left knee is up and off floor. Right leg remains bent, outer ankle and knee of right leg should be resting on the floor. Using right elbow, twist to the left of the midline of your body and press gently on outside of left knee, while looking over your left shoulder. Hold for the same count of five and then switch legs.
The Lunge: Hip Flexors Stretch
Increase your ability to run hills with this stretch. Step forward into a lunge with your right leg leading, left knee bent underneath you on ground. While holding this lunge pose, gently lean forward to stretch hip flexors (you should feel the stretch on your left side). Be careful not to extend your right knee beyond your toes.
The Butterfly: Groin Stretch
Remember these from your days of gymnastics? No less embarrassing, but just as imperative for injury prevention, this stretch can improve your speed. Sit on the floor in a modified criss-cross position, knees bent with soles of feet touching. Gently bring heels in closer to body and use your fore arms to gently press knees closer to the floor. Do not bounce your legs, and hold for five to ten seconds.
Lean-To: Calves Stretch
Lean into a wall with flat palms while extending right leg straight behind you; right heel should be almost, or completely, flat on the floor. Bend your left leg out in front, left foot flat on floor. Lean into the wall, as if trying to move it. You will feel the stretch your right calf. Hold for five seconds and switch legs. Now you are warmed up and ready to run, but don't forget to repeat each of these stretches three times after you finish your run too!