It would be impossible to stretch every muscle in the body using only thirteen stretches. The stretches outlined below cover the most important muscles used for walking and jogging. We suggest doing them after your walk or run. You can also do them any other spare time you have.
The routine starts on the floor so you should have a thick carpet or large thick mat to work on. You’ll also need several props, including a sofa for lower back support in the sitting position, a counter top to lean against in the standing position, and some pillows to sit on or use in other ways.
Each of the following stretching exercises consists of a starting position, a mental focus and a subtle stretching movement.
13 Great Stretching Exercises for Runners
Start: If you are not able to sit cross legged comfortably with a straight back, either support your lower back with a piece of furniture or raise your rump on pillows so you can relax your groin.
Focus: Relax your legs from the groin to the knees.
Motion: Let gravity work to lower your knees.
Change the forward leg occasionally and repeat the stretch.
Start: From the same sitting position as #1, put the soles of your feet together a comfortable distance from your body. Hands on your knees.
Focus: The closer you bring your feet to your groin, the deeper the stretch. Work for the right amount of stretch.
Motion: Let gravity work to lower your knees. Add the weight of your hands.
Start: From the same sitting position as #1, extend your legs until they are flat in front of you. relax your legs by shaking them up and down from the knees. Lock your knees, straighten your back, and bend your toes back slowly and release. Repeat with back and toes.
Focus: Work to ease the discomfort behind your knees before you try to place your chest on your knees.
Motion: As your leg muscles relax, your lower back straightens, and your toes come back farther.
Outer Rump Stretch:
Start: Separate from the furniture you were using for support, fold both legs to the right with your knees bent 45 to 90 degrees and your right knee against the bottom of your left foot. Support yourself with your arms. Lower your chest towards the left knee until you feel the stretch in your left rump.
Focus: Straighten your back and tilt your hips back for a deeper stretch.
Motion: Your chest drops progressively towards your knee.
Fold both legs to the left and repeat.
Inner Thigh Stretch:
Start: Lie down on your back with your legs and body straight. Bring one foot back beside your hip with your instep flat on the ground. Hold your foot in place with your hand on your ankle.
Focus: Relax the muscles holding the knee up.
Motion: Let gravity lower your knee, occasionally pressing down momentarily and releasing.
Repeat with other foot.
Neck and Torso Stretch:
Start (1): Lie on your stomach with your knees together, your arms at your side, and your head turned to the left. After a few moments, turn your head to the right, and repeat several times.
Focus: Work to release the tension in your neck from one rotation to the next.
Motion: Side of head lies flatter on the ground.
Start (2): Straighten your head and bring your hands up for support under your chin or forehead.
Focus: Relax upper body but be aware of lower back discomfort.
Motion: Neck sinks, upper back and shoulders sink towards ground.
Start (3): Rise up on your elbows and raise your head to shoulder level or above.
Focus: Avoid lower back discomfort by controlling abdomen muscles.
Motion: Lower back sinks as torso muscles relax.
Each of the following is a more progressive level.
Start (1): Lie on your stomach with your knees together. Straighten your head and bring your hands up for support under your chin or forehead. Raise your lower legs towards a vertical position.
Focus: Press your hips to the ground and avoid lower back discomfort by adjusting the position of your lower legs. Point and flex your feet several times during the stretch.
Motion: Your hips gradually settle on the ground without your having to press them there.
Start (2): Arms beside your body and your chin to the left shoulder. Bring your left lower leg back and grab your left ankle with your left hand, lifting your left shoulder slightly in the process. Then grab your left wrist with your right hand.
Focus: Press your left hip to the ground and avoid lower back discomfort.
Motion: Your hip gradually settles on the ground without your having to press it there.
Repeat this exercise with your right side.
Start (3): Holding your head straight and slightly off the ground, bring both lower legs back and grab each ankle with the corresponding hand. Press hips to the ground repeatedly.
Focus: Work for progressively more strength to hold up your head and shoulders. You should feel progressively less lower back discomfort doing the exercise.
Motion: Head and shoulders rise, and hips drop.
Stretch Bottoms of Feet:
Start: From previous position on stomach, push up on all fours. Sit back on your heels with your toes curled under.
Focus: Keep feet straight and work to stretch all toes equally.
Motion: Toes curl flatter on ground.
Lower Back and Quad Stretch:
Start (1): From the previous all-fours position and the weight mostly on your knees, straighten your toes and place the tops of both feet flat on the floor. Gradually sit back on your haunches until your back is vertical. (If you can’t sit back all the way because of knee stiffness, then play with the stretch to the limit of your flexibility before moving to phase 2.)
Focus: Avoid joint pain in your knees and ankles.
Motion: You’ll settle onto your haunches and gradually your butt will slip between your lower legs to the floor. Use a pillow between your legs to support your butt while you are making this transition.
Start (2): From the previous vertical position on your haunches, lean forward from your waist until your chest is on your knees. If you feel discomfort in your hips, try placing a pillow between your thighs and torso.
Focus: Relax back, your arms and shoulders.
Motion: Your spine curves lower towards the floor.
Start: With top of right foot flat on ground, bring your left heel back next to your butt. Hug your knee next to your chest and keep your left foot next to the right leg.
Focus: Minimize discomfort in the various joints involved in this complex exercise.
Motion: Lower leg bends forward towards foot.
Repeat for other foot.
To stretch both calves at the same time, Start (1): Stand several feet from wall (counter, table top, or fence). Lean into the wall with your legs straight and your knees locked.
Focus: Keep both feet flat on the ground and pointed straight ahead.
Motion: Your legs bend slowly towards your feet.
To stretch both calves separately, Start (2): Stand several feet from wall (counter, table top, or fence). Lean into the wall with one leg straight and that knee locked. (The other leg can be held relaxed.)
Focus: With the leg being stretched, keep the foot flat on the ground and pointed straight ahead.
Motion: Your leg bends slowly towards your foot.
Standing Inner Thigh Stretch:
Start: Stand a few feet from a counter (table top or fence). With your feet two and a half to four feet apart, bend over from your hips until you feel a stretch in the back of your upper legs. Shift your hips to one side.
Focus: Feel a stretch in the groin and inner thigh of the leg being stretched.
Motion: You’ll feel your hips shift farther to one side or the other.
Shift your hips to the other side.
Outer Hip Stretch:
Start: Stand up straight, reach straight up with your arms. Lean to one side.
Focus: Don’t twist your torso as you lean, but keep it facing straight ahead.
Motion: You lean farther to the side as you relax.
Lean to the other side.