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by Super Dave, Industry Expert

The #1 injury prevention technique for runners is proper stretching.
Nothing spoils the fun of running, or hurts your performance, like an injury. That's why experienced runners dedicate so much attention to injury prevention. Below is a quick and effective stretching routine to be used before and after each run. Combining this information with the other Good Practice & Prevention information will help you keep fit and healthy.

Five Basic Tips on Stretching

  1. Stretch each muscle group twice holding each stretch for 1 minute. The first is the intro stretch and with the second you are trying to increase the stretch without over-stretching.

  2. Stretch the tight muscles. If you can stand with your knees locked and your hands flat on the floor next to your feet, you don't need to stretch your hamstrings.

  3. If you have the time, take a Yoga class once or twice/week. It will increase your flexibility, increase blood flow and make you strong.

  4. Stretch before your run to increase blood flow. Be careful not to over-stretch your cold muscles.

  5. Stretch after your run to keep you loose and to aid your recovery.

Below are some basic stretches you can do. With each muscle group there are many different ways to stretch them. We have chosen the most basics methods for our illustrations. Make stretching as much of a ritual as your running and you will greatly reduce your chance of injury.

Stretch 1: Hamstring Stretch
Sit with one leg straight and your other leg bent. With your back straight and your head up, slowly lean forward at your waist. You should feel the stretch along the underside of your thigh.

Stretch 2: Groin Stretch
Sit with your feet together, your back straight, your head up, and your elbows on the inside of your knees. Then slowly push down on the inside of your knees with your elbows. You should feel the stretch along the inside of your thighs.

Stretch 3: Quadriceps Stretch
Stand straight with your injured leg bent. Grasp one of your legs towards your ankle with your hand and slowly pull your heel to your buttocks. You should feel the stretch in the front of your thigh.

Stretch 4: Calves Stretch
Stand with your hands against a wall and one leg behind your other leg. With your back leg straight, your heel flat on the floor and your foot pointed straight ahead, lean slowly forward, bending the other leg. You should feel the stretch in the middle of your calf.

Stretch 5: Iliotibial Band/Glute Stretch
Sit with on leg bent and crossed over your straightened opposite leg. Twist at your waist away from your bent leg, and slowly pull your bent leg across your chest. You should feel the stretch along the side of your hip.

Stretch 6: Plantar Fascia/Soleus Stretch
Stand straight with your hands against a wall and one leg slightly behind your other leg. Keeping your heels flat on the floor, slowly bend both knees. You should feel the stretch in the lower part of your leg.

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