Ultimate Post-Run Stretching Routine

Article by Lucas Rockwood

Are you a runner? If you’re looking for an effective post-run stretching exercise routine that will improve flexibility in crucial running muscles, this article is for you. This post-run stretching sequence is designed to improve flexibility and greater range of motion in your lower body, but also in your shoulders, as they often tighten up after running.

This type of deep, long-hold stretching will temporarily reduce your power and joint stability, so it should be done after, never before a run. You will likely experience some muscle and joint laxity for up to two hours after performing this routine. And since deep stretching with breathing techniques like the one we incorporate here can make you tired, many people will find it beneficial to do this routine before bed.

What is the Science of Stretching?

If you’re new to the Science of Stretching approach, which we’ll incorporate in this practice, here are the three key principles:

Principle 1: Wet Noodle

Your muscles stretch best when fully relaxed.

Principle 2: Breathe to Relax

Inhale through your nose for 1-2-3-4 and exhale through your mouth for 8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1. This will help to turn off your myotatic stretch reflex (where your body fights the stretch).

Principle 3: Time Under Passive Tension

You need to spend 2-5 minutes passively holding each pose to illicit change in your muscles.

Download PDF Pose Chart

10-Minute Post-Run Stretching Routine

Wall Doll (Hamstrings)

  • Stand around a foot away from a wall, with your back facing the wall
  • Position your feet as wide as your hips with the outer edges parallel
  • Hinge at your hips until your bum hits the wall, bending your knees slightly
  • Brace a stool or a chair in front of you with your arms – this helps to support your lower back
  • Drop your head, hold, and breathe here for two minutes – in through your nose to the count of four, out through your mouth with a “ha” sound to the count of eight
  • Slowly make your way back up to stand and shake it out

Runner’s Lunge (Calves, Ankles)

  • Stand upright, touch the wall with your hands in fists and your thumbs out
  • Step your right leg back behind you, bend your left knee, and keep your right leg straight
  • Keep your heels down not to risk over-stressing your Achilles and plantar fascia
  • Aiming for an eight out of ten level of intensity and hold for one minute
  • For the second minute, stay in the same position but slightly bend your right knee
  • Push your hips back, until you feel the stretch move lower into your calf
  • Hold for one minute, release, shake it out
  • Repeat on the other leg

Tip: You can do this pose with shoes on, but we recommend trying it barefoot, so you get the proprioception of feeling your feet against the ground.

Wide Dog (Shoulders)

  • Step your feet apart, about twice as wide as your mat
  • Place your hands on a stool in front of you
  • Adjust and find a place where you can sink down, arms straight, head between your elbows
  • Bend your knees or move your feet backwards if needed, just make sure that around 80% of the intensity is felt in your upper body
  • Relax your head and neck and hold here for two minutes, inhaling through your nose to the count of four and exhaling through your mouth to the count of eight
  • Slowly make your way back up to stand and shake it out

Lightning Bolt (Quads, Ankles)

  • You may need a couple of blocks to sit on in this pose
  • Drop down onto your knees and place your hands on top of your legs
  • Pause here and try to keep your knees as close together as possible – use a block or two under your bum if you need to
  • Hold for two minutes, breathing in through your nose to the count of four and out through your mouth for eight

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