So, you’ve just finished your running workout. The best thing you can do for your body right now is to cool down properly, rehydrate and refuel. Get these factors right in the initial phase of your recovery, and you’ll reap the benefits in your next session.
When it comes to cooling down properly, I’m often asked about what kind of cool down stretches would be best suited for stretching after running.
Stretching Doesn’t Work…? <- Learn where I stand on the "should runners stretch" debate
Stretch After Running – Full Stretch Routine
In the video above, I recently took to Facebook Live to record a stretch-along video to take you through some running stretches which together comprise an ideal stretch routine for you to complete after running.
Cool down stretches – Important points to remember:
- Technique is everything with these cool down stretches
- Stretching after running shouldn’t hurt. If you’re in pain, stop!
- Breathe! Gently focus on exhaling with each of these running stretches.
- Perform each of these stretches for 20-40 seconds 2-3 times.
1. Hamstring Stretch
From a half kneeling position, extend your front leg forwards but be sure not to straighten your knee entirely (see the video above for an explanation as to why!). Keeping your back straight and lean gently forwards. As you perform this hamstring stretch after running, you should feel the stretch in the back of your thigh, rather than behind the knee.
For another variation of this hamstring stretch check-out this video:
Hamstring Stretch for Runners: Don’t Make This Common Mistake
2. Hip Flexor Stretch
Personally I class this as one of the most important running stretches. As far as cool down stretches are concerned, adding a hip flexor stretch to your routine can help to improve common muscular imbalances around the hip.
As you move through your stretch routine into the hip flexor stretches shown in the video above, be sure to keep your butt squeezed. This will help you focus the stretch in the right area, rather than compensating through your low back.
3. Gluteal Stretch
These gluteal stretch variations don’t just target the glutes, but also deeper muscles around the hip – namely Piriformis. In fairness, I see vary few runners who are genuinely ‘tight’ in their gluteal muscles. Most of the tightness in the buttock region usually stems from muscles like piriformis it self, masquerading as gluteal tightness
4. Quads Stretch
Much as with the hip flexor stretch mentioned above, it’s important to keep control of the pelvis and low back as you perform this quads stretch. Before you pull back on your foot in the exercise shown in the running stretches video, make sure you get the posture correct.
The focuses should be to maintain a slightly flexed standing knee, and to push your chest out. This will force you to focus the stretch into your quads much more effectively.
5. Adductor Stretch
Feel free to use either of the adductor stretch variations shown in the stretch routine video above. The important point for me to make though is for us runners to take it gently at first. Many of us will find that we’re particularly tight or weak through our adductors.
I see it again and again, that we engage in a sport that requires mainly linear movement; as soon as we challenge our bodies with lateral movement, it can be a bit of a shock to the system!
6. Calf Stretch
It’s important your calf muscles get a stretch after running, but don’t force it if you’re suffering from a sore Achilles tendon post run. We often associate the bigger of the calf muscles, Gastrocnemius, with ‘the’ calf muscle. However often when assessing runners who suffer from tight calf muscles, it’s actually the Soleus muscle that gets tight. Especially if there is a weakness in Soleus. Perhaps try this Soleus strength exercise.
With that in mind, make sure you stretch both of these calf muscles as you make time for stretching after running. This can be achieved with the two different calf stretch positions shown in the video above.
7. Low Back Stretch
In addition to stretching major muscle groups of the lower body, many runners will benefit from working on some low back mobility as part of their stretching after running. As ever, be sure not to stretch into pain, and take it gently as you stretch after running, working through the exercises in the video above.
Let me know how you get on…
I’d love to hear how you get on with these cool down stretches for you to use after running. Let me know in the comments section below…
Another very helpful video. Thanks. I know I don’t say much (anything) about your videos, but I do like and use them.
Currently, I tend to cut and edit pages like this to make a “one-pager” that I can print and put on my gym wall (we’ll my garage) to act as an aide memoire.
I do like the videos and the detailed (written) guide, and a brief reminder page would be good too.
Will these stretches help with knee issues after running.
Brilliant video, James, and I love your relaxed and friendly style of delivery. Will use the stretches on this video for the athletes who I coach. Am currently using Training Peaks – are you happy for me to link your videos to the sessions I set for my runners on their Training Peaks session planners? Cheers.
Brilliant video thank you, i never really stretched after long run. This video was great found it really easy to follow + very well explained. Definately going to make this video + stretches part of my post run routine. Thanks
Is there any evidence either from your personal experience or that you’ve read that says the order of your stretches has an impact on the effectiveness of the stretching? Eg should you start with quad the. Hamstring then calves etc
What causes knee pain (feels like inside bone) whilst runnining and how do I fix it?