Check out Coach Kirk’s video on how to stretch after your run. No doubt these stretches will help you avoid stiffness, as well as keep your muscles and joints limber once you’ve come to the end of your workout!
If you are like many of us other busy folks, you may not be taking the time to properly cool down after your run. It’s tempting to come to a dead stop the second you get back to your car, home, or work. Resist that temptation and give your body some TLC at the end of your workout with the following suggestions!
Start your cool down with a 5-10 minute walk. Make it simple by just stopping your run before you get back home or to your car. Take a second to untie your shoes — it’ll give your feet a chance to breathe, and it will allow you to slow down a bit and relax. Trust us, this feels great!
Dynamic movement is key to an effective cool down. Running repeats the same forward motion over and over. So you’ll want to relax the joints and muscles that have been playing on repeat since you started your run by simply moving them in different ways.
For the hips and hamstrings, try hip circles. Get down in that deep lunge, hands on the ground, and create large circles with the hips. Try at least 10 circles in each direction. Breathe deeply into the stretch as you go.
Once you’ve opened up those hips, drive the front leg back, straightening the knee, to feel a deep stretch in the hamstring. You don’t need to hold this stretch long! Rock back and forth for a good 10-20 repetitions. Switch legs and repeat on the other side.
Use this opportunity to create a deeper range of ankle flexion than you typically get while running. Find a post, a bench, a wall…something you can lean into. Place your foot 6-12 inches back, and bend the knee to bring it forward, trying to touch the post. Repeat this motion for about 20 repetitions per side.
The key to this one is to make sure your hips and knees aren’t collapsing inward. Ideally you want that forward knee to track laterally along the outside of the foot, avoiding any inward twisting of the knee.
Flex at the toes to create a deep stretch along the bottom of the feet. Get down into a squat, with one foot staggered in front of the other. Press the toes of the back foot firmly into the ground. You can keep your hands on the ground, and lean forward, letting the heel of the back foot come off. Be careful not to come so far up you are resting on the ends of your toes. No ballerina moves here!
Repeat 20-30 times in a rocking motion on both sides.
Easy enough, right?!
Looking for more variety in your post-run routine? Check out Holly’s Post-5k Stretches for some deep static stretching, great for muscles that are already warm.