How, When and What Runners Need To Stretch | STACK Fitness
X

Become a Better Athlete. Sign Up for our FREE Newsletter.

How, When and What Runners Need to Stretch

January 18, 2013 | Giovanni Grassi

Must See Flexibility Videos

Stretching has been a long-standing workout staple for athletes to increase their flexibility and joint range of motion. (Read more on STACK's Stretching page.) But when it comes to stretching, many athletes, especially runners, frequently wonder, "How do I stretch this muscle?" or "When is the best time for me to stretch?" or "How long should I hold this stretch?"

Track coaches and runners must always incorporate stretching in their training programs. Runners need hip flexibility to improve  their lower-body strength and increase their stride length. Stretching can also reduce the risk of common track-related injuries.

Many track coaches have their athletes perform static stretches as part of their warm-up. But I am here to tell you that static stretching reduces power and decreases sprinting times. Research has shown that static stretching prior to an event can diminish peak force output from stretch-shortening cycle actions, but that performing a dynamic warm-up enhances performance.[1] It is also proven that stretching prior to an event can result to a three percent decline in sprint time.

So what should runners do prior to an event or practice? They should go through a dynamic warm-up that is aimed at increasing blood flow and activating muscles (motor recruitment).

Save your static stretching for after your workout or event. Using a long resistance band (medium tension), perform the following four stretches after practice, lifting or an event to increase flexibility and speed recovery.

Lying Hamstring Stretch

Sets/Duration: 2x30 seconds each leg

  • Lie on your back with the band wrapped around one foot
  • Pull on the band so that your leg rises up and stretches
  • Keep the opposite leg straight on the ground.
  • As you stretch, practice taking slow deep breaths; breathe out slowly as you pull your leg back more to increase flexibility

Crossover Stretch

Sets/Duration: 2x30 seconds each leg

  • Keeping the band wrapped around your foot, pull that leg across your body
  • Keep your opposite leg straight and both shoulders in contact with the ground
  • You should feel this stretch on the outside of your leg as well as your glutes
  • As you stretch, practice taking slow deep breaths; breathe out slowly as you pull your leg back more to increase flexibility

Side Stretch

Sets/Duration: 2x30 seconds each leg

  • Keeping the band wrapped around your foot, pull that leg out to the side of your body
  • Keep your opposite leg straight and both shoulders in contact with the ground
  • You should feel this stretch on the inside part of your leg
  • As you stretch, practice taking slow deep breaths; breathe out slowly as you pull your leg back more to increase flexibility

Quad/Hip Flexor Stretch

Sets/Duration: 2x30 seconds each leg

  • Keeping the band wrapped around your foot, roll over onto your stomach and pull the band over your opposite shoulder, lifting your quad off the ground
  • You should feel this stretch in your quad and hip flexor
  • As you stretch, practice taking slow deep breaths; breathe out slowly as you pull your leg back more to increase flexibility

Reference

[1] Jason B Winchester, Arnold G. Nelson, Dennis Landin, Michael A. Young, Irving C. Schexnayder, "Static stretching impairs sprint performance in collegiate track and field athletes." http://hpcsport.com/publications/staticstretching2.pdf.

Topics: STRETCHING
Giovanni Grassi
- Giovanni Grassi is an NSCA-CSCS-certified sports performance specialist at the Parisi Speed School in Fair Lawn, N.J., where he trains athletes in speed and agility...
Giovanni Grassi
- Giovanni Grassi is an NSCA-CSCS-certified sports performance specialist at the Parisi Speed School in Fair Lawn, N.J., where he trains athletes in speed and agility...
More Cool Stuff You'll Like

Go the Distance With This Baseball Yoga Warm-Up

Mobility Training for Hockey Goalies

These 9 Exercises Will Improve Your Hip Mobility

You're Doing It Wrong: The Warm-Up

Reducing Tight Hamstrings without Stretching for Hockey Players

Must-Have Additions to Your Baseball Stretching Routine

The Most Important Muscle You've Never Heard Of

Dig Like a Pro: Exercises for Volleyball Mobility

Pre-Workout Warm-Up Steps You Can't Afford to Skip

How Hockey Goalies Can Get More Flexible for a Better Butterfly

Increase Your Flexibility Without Stretching

A Tight Back May Hurt Your Performance and Health

3 Tips To Make Your Stretching Routine More Effective

Why You Shouldn't Stretch 24 Hours Before a Game

4 Goals and 23 Movements for an Effective Athletic Warm-Up

Pro Secrets, Revealed: The Perfect Workout Warm-Up

Improve Your Balance with Stability Ball Exercises

Add Warrior Poses to Your In-Season Training

The Importance of Recovery Workouts

Flexibility for Cross Country From the Ground Up

Stay Pain-Free With These Advanced Stretches

Green Bay Packers Discover Football's Fountain of Youth

How to Fix 4 Common Tight Areas in Your Body

Fundamentals of a Pre-Workout Warm-Up

Dynamic Warm-Up Exercises Done the Right Way

Pre-Match Warm-Ups that Will Improve Your Tennis Game

Why Athletes Should Practice Yoga

3 Yoga Twists to Keep You on the Field and Improve Your Game

Balance Exercises That Are Game-Changers

Dynamic Warm-Up Exercises for a Safe, Effective Workout

3 Exercises That Fix Common Baseball Hip Mobility Issues

The Ultimate Pitcher's Warm-Up: 4 Shoulder Exercises with Bands

The Best Stretching Exercise for You

Find Your Effective Pregame Basketball Warm-Up

Animal Flow Scorpion Reach for Injury Prevention

Why and When You Need to Change Your Pre-Game Warm-Up Routine

Patrick Peterson's Yoga Workout

Best Exercises for Improving Joint Mobility

6 Thoracic Spine Exercises to Improve Mobility

Are Tight Hips Slowing You Down?

Improve Your Squat With 6 At-Home Hip Flexor Mobility Exercises

12 Dynamic Stretches Football Players Must Do