Sports Therapy
Run. Stretch. Repeat.

Run. Stretch. Repeat.

We see a lot of runners come into our clinics, for a couple of reasons. First off, it’s one of the most accessible sports, and has become ubiquitous. Some days it might feel like you talk to more people who have run marathons than haven’t. Secondly, it’s one of the most accessible sports, so people just pick up off the couch and head out for a run…which can often result in injury. One thing that has been said time and again to help prevent injuries is stretching. Yep, be honest, you know you should be stretching, but do you? Well, if you’re diligent enough to be reading our blog you just might, but most people don’t. It’s hard enough to squeeze in the time for 10K, never mind having to tack on a yoga class at the end. Nope, no time to stretch.

Hey now! Turns out you don’t need a yoga class at all. Yoga for runners is great, but if you’re just looking for THE stretches you need to be doing as a runner, we’ve got them for you right here, Mathew approved. Just remember you want to be stretching WARM muscles, so use these to help cool down after a run. Make sure to do both sides, remember to breathe and hold each for at least 30 seconds.

  1. Hamstrings: if you run you’ve probably complained about tight hammies more than once. So, lay down on your back w/ legs extended. Starting with one leg at a time, bend your knee into your chest, and grab the back of it with both hands. Slowly straighten that leg until you feel a gentle stretch, pulling it towards you, while you keep your hips flat on the floor. If it feels too intense you can always bend your knee a little.
  2. Quadriceps: the big beautiful muscles on the front of your legs, this is the stretch you’ll catch most people doing. Standing with your back straight, pick up one foot behind you with the hand of the same side. Be sure to keep your hips level and thighs lined up.
  3. Piriformis: piriwhat? Not as talked about as the quads, but just as important, these muscles control hip rotation. They tend to tighten up in runners (what doesn’t?!) so start by laying on your back with legs out straight, hips level. Bend one knee, place your foot on the floor, and cross your other ankle over your bent knee. Put both hands behind your bent knee and draw it towards your chest.
  4. Piriformis: again! That should tell you it’s pretty important to stretch these muscles out. Start lying flat again, bend your right knee into your chest, and grab your knee with your left hand. Place your right hand out to the side, like you were making a “T” shape. Keeping your shoulders on the floor, guide your right knee across your body towards the floor, as far as is comfortable, on the left hand side.
  5. Calves: your calves might be small, but they are certainly important to your ability to run – those of us who run in minimalist shoes are especially aware. To give ’em a good stretch, start by facing a wall, standing back about a foot. Place your hands on the wall at shoulder height, keeping your elbows slightly bent. Keeping both feet flat, slide one foot back and press into the wall until you feel the stretch in your calf. The stretch will increase as you move your foot further back.
  6. IT Band: if you’ve picked up a running mag you’ve certainly heard about the illotibial or IT band. IT’s kind of a big deal…okay, let’s just get to the stretch. Stand with your left side facing a wall, an arms length away, with your left hand on the wall. Cross your right leg (far leg) in front of your left leg (leg beside wall) and place your right hand on your hip. Lean your left hip towards the wall, bend your left elbow, and remember to breathe. Be sure to keep your legs and back straight.

That’s it! Be sure to do these after each run to help keep loose, limber and injury free. If you’ve got questions about any of these stretches, or have a running injury that needs individual attention, any of our physiotherapists would be happy to help you out.

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