The jury is out as to whether stretching is beneficial, but if you have time to stretch and you like doing it, then you can’t go wrong with these three.
Please bear in mind that stretching cold muscles is not recommended, you should only stretch a muscle that has been warmed up otherwise you risk injury and that would not be cool.
Hold each stretch for 15-30 seconds on each side.
Figure 4 stretch
What it’s good for: Piriformis muscle.
Your piriformis is responsible for the rotation of the hip. Although it’s very important in activities that frequently change direction, it tends to tighten up in runners. If the piriformis becomes too tight or spasms, it can irritate the sciatic nerve, which causes pain in the glutes, lower back and thighs. The glute is your powerhouse when it comes to running. Get this sorted and you are well on the way to staying injury free.
This is called the figure 4 stretch as you kind of create a figure 4, it also looks a lot like contortion but once you get used to doing it you can get into position quickly.
Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground. Bring your right foot up and lean it against your left knee. Reach your arms forward to your left thigh and bring your left knee towards you.
If you’re a runner then it’s likely you will have tight hamstrings, it goes with the territory. This can lead to lower back problems and pulled muscles.
Having tight hamstrings will also limit your range of motion which can in turn affect your running stride, form and speed.
Stretching your hamstrings while on your back keeps your spine in neutral and reduces the risk of lower back pain.
It’s important to stretch your quads as they are the muscles which help lift your knees and increase your speed.
When you stretch your quadriceps you force your hamstrings to contract, helping them get stronger.
For this stretch you might like to have something to help you balance, such as a wall, powerpole or chair.