These are my 5 essential stretches before I go out running. As you will be able to tell from the photos, I am not very flexible, but it used to be worse 😬. I do these as part of my warm ups. It gets me mentally ready and loosens me up so that I don’t get injured.
When I do my stretches I do them all the same way. I hold for 30 seconds unless there is a need to stretch more. For example sometimes my right heel is a little tight so I may do the calf stretch for 40-50 sec. Never bounce, smoothly push to the point that you feel the pull in the area you should and hold it there. Gently and smoothly extending a little further towards the end of the 30 seconds.
Lift one of your feet behind you, grabbing it with your hands, and balance on your other foot. In that position pull your shoulders back and point your knee as far behind you as possible. Think “stretch your stomach into an arc.” You should feel the stretch in the top of your leg between the knee and the hip.
Keep your legs straight and reach towards your toes. I have a goal to touch my toes. My daughter can put her hands flat on the ground and is sure to let me know it. It doesn’t matter how far as long as you feel the pull on the back of your knees and up the back of your legs.
This one entered my routine after I started having IT band issues. After 8-12 miles I would get to the point I couldn’t walk because of the searing pain. I changed a few things to my run and added this stretch and haven’t had the searing pain since.
This is the most complicated of the stretches. While standing cross your feet. Rotate your ankle on the leg in the back. Reach the arm of the leg in the back towards your toes. You should be feeling the stretch along the outside of your leg from your ankle up to your hip.
I may repeat this during a run if I start to feel the outside of my leg getting tight.
Calves & Heels
Find a curb or set of stairs next to something to hold for balance. Left one foot up and hang half of your other foot off the ledge and let your body weight press your heel down. I do these one at a time as my body weight is perfect for one leg. I am sure to keep the other foot in the air.
You should feel the stretch along the back of your leg and down the heel into the bottom of the foot. I also use my hand to take some of the weight or to push harder on the foot depending on what I need.
Inner thigh and groin
Sitting, put your feet together and hold them with your hands. Slide your feet as close to you as you can and try and put your nose towards your feet. Use your elbows to push down on your legs. You will feel the stretch on you inner thigh on both legs and up through the groin.
Be sure to stretch your face muscles with a big smile. After all you are about to go on a run!