6 Key Stretches for Runners

We know, we know: Stretching is confusing. One minute, experts tell you to stretch before you run, and the next minute research reveals that static stretching (think: touching your toes) may actually zap performance. What's a runner to do?

Well, first, know this. You need to stretch. Running makes your legs strong, toned, and, unfortunately, tight. Every step you take forces those quads, hamstrings, calves, and hips to flex and extend over and over to propel you down the road. After many miles, those hardworking muscles and tendons can develop imbalances, scar tissue, and tension, slowing you down and paving the way for common over-use injuries like IT Band syndrome, and Achilles tendonitis.

In terms of when and how you should get all Gumby, Chicago-based NASM personal trainer and USA Track & Field certified run coach Meghan Kennihan, suggests doing dynamic stretches before you pound the pavement, and do static stretches after your run, when your muscles are pliable.

"Dynamic—that's in motion—and static stretching is an essential part of any runner's training program," Kennihan said. "Dynamic stretches activate and loosen up all your leg muscles, preparing you for your run. Static stretching at the end of your run can bring your heart down, cut your risk of injury and lessen muscle soreness."

To prevent injury and hasten recovery, perform dynamic stretches before you pound the pavement, and do static stretches after your run, when your muscles are pliable.

About the Author

Nikki Chavanelle is one of ACTIVE's Fitness and Nutrition editors. As a former intramural rock star at SMU and current sports junkie, Nikki claims she peaked in college. Follow Nikki on Twitter for fitness and sports chatter.
Nikki Chavanelle is one of ACTIVE's Fitness and Nutrition editors. As a former intramural rock star at SMU and current sports junkie, Nikki claims she peaked in college. Follow Nikki on Twitter for fitness and sports chatter.

Discuss This Article

Get ACTIVE on the Go

Couch to 5K®
Couch to 5K®

Couch to 5K®

The best way to get new runners off the couch and across the finish line of their first 5K.

Available for iOS | Android

Connect With Us