Experts believe that running may be the single most effective exercise to prolong life. However, while running makes your leg muscles strong and toned, it also makes them tight. Fortunately, muscle tightness can be fixed by doing stretches.
Stretching is integral in ensuring mobility because It keeps the muscles flexible enough to maintain sufficient range of motion in the joints to accomplish everyday tasks. Without stretching, our muscles become short and tight – making us prone to muscle and joint damage.
Stretching is most effective when done regularly and performed after at least 5 to 10 minutes of light activity – when muscles are warmed up and ready to be stretched. Feeling tension during a stretch is normal, but when you experience pain during a stretch, stop immediately and talk to your doctor as it may be a sign of an injury.
Here are five standing stretches that you can do after running:
1. Calf Stretch
Stand on a curb or step. Move the heel of your left foot backward so it’s hanging off the curb. Lower your left heel down until you feel a deep stretch in your calf muscle. Bend both knees to deepen the stretch.
2. Glute and Piriformis Stretch
Cross your left ankle just above your right knee and lower down into a squatting position. Hold onto a friend or a tree for balance if necessary. Repeat on opposite leg.
3. Hamstring Stretch
Extend your left leg so your left heel is on the ground in front of you. Bend your right knee and slowly lower your hips down and back, as if you were sitting into an imaginary chair. Keep your upper body tall. Repeat on opposite side.
4. Chest Stretch
Stand with feet shoulder-width apart. Lace your fingers together behind your head. Squeeze your shoulder blades together while trying to extend your elbows out to the sides and slightly back to open your chest.
5. Quad Stretch
While standing on your left leg, bring your right heel back, and grab your right foot or ankle with your left hand. Gently pull your foot toward your tailbone. Keep your knees aligned, and don’t arch your back. Repeat on your other leg.