What is the best stretch for runners?

While there’s much debate about whether you should stretch before or after you run—or whether you even need to stretch at all—there are a few stretches that help with the typical problem areas that runners have. Many runners end up with super tight muscles that restrict their movement and cause injury, so the goal of stretching is to increase muscle elasticity and improve your range of motion.

The main areas of concern for most runners include one, some, or all of these:

  • Hamstrings
  • Quadriceps
  • Calves
  • Iliotibial band (IT band)
  • Groin
  • Glutes

Runner’s World UK put together a great guide of easy stretches for each of these areas that is worth checking out. Anytime you are stretching, you may feel discomfort (you’re stretching it for a reason, after all), but you don’t want to feel pain. Hold a stretch for about 30 seconds, and be sure to do both sides, even if one is tighter than the other.

Yoga can also be a great way to stretch muscles while making them stronger. Yoga Journal has a wonderful collection of articles and videos of the specific poses that runners can benefit from.

Another way to stretch out muscles is by foam rolling. Like with a massage, foam rolling breaks up the fascia that can be restricting your flexibility and mobility.

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