With summer marathon training in full swing, there’s a good chance your legs may already be feeling a little tight or heavy from logging so many miles. Although it’s tempting to rush through a quick stretch session after finishing up a run, your body will thank you for taking the time to really focus on stretching and lengthening the muscles you just put to use. Proper stretching provides so many benefits like decreasing recovery time between runs, improving flexibility and preventing injury. Below, we’ve included some of the most effective stretches for tight hamstrings, calves and hip flexors. Try incorporating them after your next run and on your rest days.
Lying Hamstring Stretch
Lie on your back. Keeping both legs straight, lift your right leg 90 degrees from the floor. Loop a towel or a resistance band around your right foot and gently pull toward your face until you feel a deep stretch. Hold for 30 seconds then move your right leg slightly to the right and repeat the gentle pulling motion. Hold for another 30 seconds. Finally, move your right leg slightly to the left and repeat, holding another 30 seconds. Release your right foot from the towel or resistance band and repeat on your left side.
Standing Hamstring Stretch
Start by standing with both feet together. Step back about two feet with your left leg and reach down for your right toes, folding your body over your right leg. To deepen the stretch, slightly bend your left leg while flexing your right foot. Hold for 30 seconds then bring your left foot back up to meet your right and switch sides, placing your right foot back and reaching toward your left toes.
Start in plank, then slowly lift your hips up and walk your feet forward until you’re in an inverted “v” position. Press your palms into the floor and gently lower your heels until you feel a good stretch in your calves. Stay here or pedal out your feet for a deeper stretch, about 30 seconds.
Seated Calf Stretch
Sit on the floor with both legs stretched out in front of you. Reach forward as far as you can, grabbing for your feet or ankles, and gently pull your upper body down toward your legs. Hold for 30 seconds, then release.
Beginning in plank, pull your right leg through so your right knee meets your right elbow and your right foot meets your left elbow. Gently lower yourself down to the ground so your right leg is at a 90 degree angle and your left leg remains straight behind you. Hold for 30 seconds, then push back up into a plank and repeat with your left leg.
Kneeling Hip Opener
Starting on both knees, bring your right leg forward into a runner’s lunge, remembering to keep your knee in line with your ankle. Hold for 30 seconds then push back into a kneeling position with your right foot. Repeat on your left side.