Stretching has a number of benefits for runners. Here are 8 of the most important stretches that a runner should be doing in order to counteract the effects running has on the body.
1. The Calf Stretch
Use a wall or tree for support and lean on it with your forearms, your head resting on your hands. One leg is bent, the other straight behind you. The heel is flat on the ground, the toes pointing forward. Slowly move your hips forward until you feel a stretch in the calf of the straight leg. (This can also be done with both legs simultaneously).
2. Additional Calf Stretch
From the above position, simply bend your knee while still keeping the heel on the ground. You should now feel the pull lower down in the calf.
3. Hamstring Stretch
Sitting with one leg bent and the other straight, lean forward (keeping the back as straight as possible), thus stretching the hamstrings of the straightened leg. (This can also be done with both legs straight).
4. Additional Hamstring Stretch
The above position can be maintained while gently drawing the ankle of the outstretched leg towards the forehead while you sit upright.
5. Quadriceps Stretch
Sitting with one leg straight and the other in the hurdle position, slowly lean back to stretch the quadriceps. Make sure that your back is fully supported with your hands and arms.
6. Groin Stretch
Sit with the soles of the feet facing each other, the feet are well tucked in, the back straight and the hands gasp the feet. Now stretch the groin by pushing the knees outwards towards the ground.
7. Buttocks Stretch
While sitting, pull on the leg towards your chest with both hands. The stretch is felt in the buttocks.
8. Iliotibial Band Stretch
Sit with the right leg straight and the left placed flat on the ground on the outside of the right knee. The left hand rest on the ground. Your right elbow rests on the outside of the left leg. Now turn your head to look over your left shoulder, your upper body (but not hips) following. Gently push your right elbow against your bent leg to stretch the Iliotibial band.
Gary is a physiotherapist based in Linksfield West in Johannesburg. He has a special interest in treating sports injuries, running injuries and orthopaedics. He has also assisted a number of top Comrades and Iron Man athletes with treatment. Read more about Gary Sobel here.