We all seem to focus on cardiovascular workouts but let’s not forget some of the most important stretches to do after running, biking or any other form exercise. I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to not only stretch before, but also after vigorous exercise. It helps improve your flexibility, posture, blood supply to muscles and range of motion. So if you are a big fan of running, here are some simple stretches to do after running long or short distances.
1. Calf Stretch
Your calf muscles work really hard when you are running, which is why it is so crucial to give them a nice stretch right after you are done. One of the most popular calf stretches to do after running is the wall stretch. All you have to do is place both hands on a wall with your arms extended, then lean against the wall with one leg bent forward and the other extended back. With the extended leg, try to keep your knee straight and foot facing forward, firmly planted against the ground.
Another easy yet popular stretch is the quadriceps stretch. It is a relatively simple but critical stretch. To complete this stretch, stand up straight, lift your right foot behind you and grab your ankle with your right hand. Gently pull your heel against your butt, hold it there for at least 15 seconds and alternate legs. If it is difficult for you to keep your balance you can always use a railing or a wall for support.
One of my favorite stretches to complete is the hamstrings stretch. Your hamstrings are prone to injury but stretching them before and after exercise can easily prevent future problems. To do this stretch, gently bend down and try to reach your toes with your fingertips. However, make sure to keep your knees straight and gently push. There are several variations of this stretch so if you want to try others, do the exact same thing but with your legs crossed and the outside of your feet together. You will definitely feel it!
4. Groin Stretch
The groin stretch is also known as the butterfly stretch and it works perfectly well for your inner thighs and groin area. Just sit with the soles of your feet touching right in front of you and slowly move your feet to your groin area as close as possible. However, if you want to get a little fancy, you can even ask someone to gently push down on your knees to really feel the whole stretch.
5. Hip and Lower Back Stretch
Another useful stretch that I learned about through my track experience is the hip and lower back stretch. All you have to do is sit down with your legs straight out in front of you, lift your right leg and bent it over your left leg. Pull the leg closer to your body and then twist in the opposite direction and look over your shoulder. Once you hold it there for at least 15 seconds, alternate legs and complete the stretch in the same manner.
6. Seated Hamstrings Stretch
You can also stretch your hamstrings in a sitting position. Just sit down with both of your legs stretched in front of you, bring the sole of your left leg to the inner thigh of your right leg and try to reach your toes on the right leg with your fingertips. Try to do the same with the other leg and to finish it off, bring your legs together and carefully pull toward your toes.
7. Arms and Ab Stretch
Running also works out your abs and arms, so let’s not neglect those areas of your body while you stretch. To stretch your arms and abs, stand with your feet shoulder width apart and stretch your arms above your head. While in that position, lean to the right as far as you can and then to the left. Remember to hold that stance for 15-30 seconds.
Stretching your body before and after your workouts can really lengthen your muscles and give the appearance of a slimmer body. Those 5-10 minutes of stretches can also relax your body and give you a kick of energy. So what are your favorite stretches to do after your workouts?