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6 Important Stretches for Runners

Updated on March 3, 2013
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6 Important Stretches for Runners


When I ran track and field back in high school, my coaches required that every runner meet at the field 15-20 minutes early for warm-up. Don't worry; a good stretch shouldn't take more than five minutes, but bear in mind that you need to stretch before and after your run. Both intervals are essential to keep at your best without injury.

These are the six stretches I do before every workout. If I have time to squeeze in more, I do so happily, but if I can't, no stress. One minute per stretch will suffice.

Walking Lunges


With lunges, proper form is paramount. Also, when you transition out of the lunge, keep your strength in the front ankle. Do 30 lunges per leg.

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Hamstring Stretch

Stretch 2

Hamstring Stretch

  • Lie on your back with one leg straight in the air.
  • Depending on your flexibility, the other leg can be bent or lying straight on the ground.
  • Pull the leg in the air toward you (For the best stretch, I like to stretch until I feel resistance and hold it). This builds better flexibility. Remember, pain and resistance are different things, and they feel different. If it hurts, stop. If it's resisting, this is due to lack of flexibility.
  • 30 seconds per leg.


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Quad Stretch

Stretch 3

Quad Stretch

  • Bend one leg
  • Use your hand to grab the foot and hold this position.
  • Build your strength and flexibility by bringing the leg closer to your body.
  • 10 seconds per side. Repeat 3 times.


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Jumping Jacks

Stretch 4

Jumping Jacks

Stretch four isn't a stretch, but a move that will reduce stiffness and soreness. I do 30 jumping jacks; pause; catch my breath. Then do 30 more. I often do this at the start of my stretch to get the juices flowing. When I exclude jumping jacks, my body hurts more after a run, and the stretches are less tolerable. For that, it's a vital element in my stretching routine.

Achilles Tendon Stretch

Stretch 5

Achilles Tendon Stretch

  • Find a wall. If you're outside, find a tree.
  • Align one foot in front of the other.
  • Bend the leg of your front knee. Keep the back leg straight.
  • Lean forward, inching toward the wall.
  • Hold for 10 seconds per side. Do this 3 times.


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Seated Forward Bend

Stretch 6

Seated Forward Bend (back stretch)

  • Start off sitting with your legs extended before you.
  • Sit tall.
  • Bend forward, keeping your spine straight. Place your hands beside you, or wrap them around your feet if you can.
  • Rest your head on your legs if you can. Otherwise, bend down as far as you can go.
  • Hold position for at least 30-60 seconds. With time, your back, neck and hamstrings will loosen and the stretch will be easier.


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I don't know how many people include a back stretch in their routine, but my back is a notorious soar spot, especially when I do cardio. Any chance I get, I throw the seated forward bend into my stretching routine.

These are the six stretches I do in order to kick-start my run. I'm not saying these stretches are fool proof, but I am saying they work for me. Don't forget to repeat each stretch after your run. You're more flexible after a workout, so a quick stretch afterward will increase your flexibility.

~RiaLivesWell

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