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The best pre-running stretches

Updated: Sep 24, 2020

Before you start off on your run, whether it be outdoors or in the gym, stretching is essential.

Stretching warms up your muscles before you put them to work and ensures you work them properly. There are two types of stretches that you can do: dynamic and static. Static stretches are the ones you hold for up to thirty seconds and are best saved for after your workout. Dynamic stretching loosens up your muscles and prepares you better for the exercise ahead.

Be careful not to overstretch when prepping for your run. You shouldn't feel any pain or discomfort when stretching, only some resistant.

Hip flexor stretch

This is a very important stretch for anyone that sits at a desk or generally sits for the majority of the day.

  1. Position your legs as though going into a lunge and lower your back knee to the ground.

  2. Instead of keeping your foot flexed, push your toes out so that the upper part of your foot is resting on the ground.

  3. Lean slightly forward until you feel some resistance. Do this for around ten seconds on each leg.

Side stretch

Even the fittest of runners can fall victim to a stitch in their side, and this is one way to minimise the likelihood of getting one.

  1. Stand with your feet together and bring your arms up to stretch above your head.

  2. Keep your core tight and engaged then lean to one side by bending at the waist.

  3. To ensure this is a dynamic stretch, only hold this for a few seconds before leaning to the other side.

  4. Repeat a couple of times where necessary.

Hip circle

As well as opening the hips and improving their flexibility with the hip flexor, some simple hip circles will mean your hips are well prepared for the impact they'll absorb during running.

  1. Place your hands on your hips and stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.

  2. Circle your hips in one direction in increasing circle sizes for between 6 and ten rotations.

  3. For a deeper stretch, pause at each of the four compass points in your circle for a few seconds on the last rotation.

  4. Switch directions and repeat.

Calf raises

Your calves contract every time your foot leaves the ground while running, so they do a lot of work. Combat tightness in your calves and prep them for the work ahead with this simple stretch. Hold on to something for balance if you need to.

  1. Stand with the balls of your feet on the very edge of a stair or step. You can also do this standing on flat ground if you can't find an edge.

  2. Rise up onto your toes slowly and then sink back down until your heels go down past the edge of the step, or until you feel the stretch in your calf muscle.

  3. Hold the stretch here for a few seconds before rising up to your toes again.

  4. Repeat a few times, no more than eight.

Standing quad stretch

Open up your hips again whilst also ensuring that your quads are prepared and flexible.

  1. Stand upright and keep your shoulders aligned over your hips.

  2. Bend one knee and grab your ankle - not your foot - and pull it towards your bum.

  3. Keep your pelvis pushing forwards so that you feel the stretch in your quad.

  4. Hold for up to ten seconds then repeat on the other leg.

Some of these can be repeated as static stretches at the end of your run too, meaning you hold the position for a little longer.

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