Reading Time: 5 minutes

Start your day with a full-body stretch as you prepare to run a mile. Find out the best morning stretching routine for runners.

Keywords: stretches, routine

Additional keywords: standing hamstring stretch, standing calf stretch, butterfly stretch, standing quad stretch, tricep stretch, seated stretch

 

Running is indeed one of the best ways to sweat. After all, it tones your muscles, makes your legs stronger, and helps you stay fit and healthy. But every step that you take exerts pressure on your quads, calves, hips, and hamstrings. And as you continue to run for miles, you realize that your body’s hardworking muscles have developed some imbalances which eventually slow you down. Fortunately, there is a way to prevent this damage, and that is to stretch.   

Stretching is one of the best ways to improve blood circulation in your body. It helps you reset your posture and improve overall flexibility and mobility. Below we have compiled a list of stretching exercises that are excellent for runners. If you try them first thing in the a.m., these stretches will not only warm up your body but are also a great way to relax your sore muscles post-workout. Let’s take a look at the following morning stretches for runners.

 

Upper Body Stretches

Runners usually focus on the lower body. After all, they need strong hamstrings, calves, and hip muscles to run a mile. But let’s not forget that upper body muscles are equally important. Though they do not support you as you run, stiffness in the upper body can affect your performance and make you more prone to injury. The following upper body stretches will help prevent injury as you run.

 

Neck Rotation

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-distance apart and place your hands on your hips.
  • Now gently rotate your neck and take a complete 360o rotation clockwise.
  • Repeat the rotations 5-7 times.
  • Take a pause and then repeat the same motion in an anticlockwise direction.

This stretch will help reduce tension in your upper body and will promote better posture as you run.

 

Circular Shoulder Stretch

  • Standing in the same position, loosely hang your arms.
  • Now lift your shoulders towards your ears, and complete a full rotation with your shoulder while your hands rest on your thighs.
  • Repeat the rotation 8-10 times
  • Change direction and complete the set.

It helps relax muscles that can lead to stiffness in the neck and shoulders.

 

Cross Body Shoulder Stretch

  • Stand with your legs shoulder-width apart and with your right arm extending outwards.
  • Using your left arm, bend from your elbow, pull your right arm towards your chest.
  • Continue to do so until you feel a stretch.
  • Hold the position for 30 seconds and repeat with your left arm.
  • Complete 3-5 sets of this stretch.

This stretch helps relax your shoulders, which plays a critical role in improving your posture as you run.

 

Triceps Stretch

  • Standing with your feet shoulder-distance apart, extend your right arm towards the ceiling.
  • Now bend your arm at the elbow to bring it back to the center of your back such that the middle finger of your right arm touches your spine.
  • Use your left arm to push your right elbow, so you feel the stretch.
  • Hold the position for 30 seconds and switch arms.
  • Complete 3-5 sets of this stretch.  

While triceps are considered a small muscle group of the upper arm, it plays an essential role in supporting your arm and shoulder. Stretching your triceps helps maintain flexibility in your upper body.

The relaxed muscles of the upper body enhance your lungs’ performance as they can breathe and expand more when your upper back muscles are relaxed.

 

 

Lower Body Stretches

The lower body is, of course, most critical when it comes to running. So runners must stretch their lower body muscles enough to loosen up tight muscles and reduce the risk of running-related injuries.

 

The Seated Stretch

  • Start by sitting on the floor with your right foot extended in front of you. Make sure your foot is flexed.
  • Fold your left leg such that your foot touches your right thigh.
  • With your arms stretching outwards, lean forward to hold your right leg.
  • Hold the position for 30 seconds and switch legs.  
  • Repeat 3-5 sets of this stretch.

The seated stretch is one of the best stretches to loosen up tight hamstrings.

 

Butterfly Stretch

  • As you transition from the seated stretch, continue to sit on the floor such that your heels and feet touch each other.
  • Then press your thighs with your hands and lean forward as you feel stretch in your groin area.
  • Hold the position for 30 seconds.
  • Repeat the stretch 3-5 times.

This stretch is excellent for opening up your thigh muscles and improve flexibility.

 

Calf Stretch

  • Stand with your legs shoulder-width apart and place your hands on a wall or chair.
  • Extend your right leg behind you while your foot is still intact on the floor.
  • Bending your left knee, lean forward until you feel a stretch in your right leg.
  • Hold the position for 30-45 seconds and switch legs.
  • Repeat 3-5 sets of this stretch.

Standing calf stretch ease pain in the foot, hip, shin, and knees. It can also play an essential role in protecting the Achilles tendon.

 

Standing Quadriceps Stretch

  • Stand with your feet together, and keep your shoulders relaxed.
  • Bend your right leg backward and hold it with your right arm.
  • Breathe deeply and hold the position for 30 seconds.
  • Release and switch legs.
  • Repeat 3-5 sets of this stretch.  

Stretching your quads can significantly improve aching knees and back as it improves circulation and helps reduce stress levels.

 

Standing Hamstring Stretch

  • Stand with your legs hip-width apart.
  • Make sure your knees are slightly bent, and your arms are by your side.
  • Bend forward at your hips and lower your head towards the ground.
  • Keep your head, neck, and shoulders relaxed.
  • Now wrap your arms around the back of your legs.
  • Hold the position for 45 seconds.
  • Repeat the stretch 3-5 times.

Like the seated stretch, the standing hamstring stretch helps loosen up your hamstring muscles and protect against injury.

Stretching the muscles of your upper and lower body is one of the best ways to prevent running-related injuries and strengthen muscles that are most critical for running.

 

Post-run Stretches

While it is important to stretch in the morning before you run, it is equally important to do some post-run stretches to ease up your sore muscles. Some of the stretches mentioned above are excellent post-run stretches, including hamstring, quad, calf, and butterfly stretches. However, there are some specific stretches, such as Figure Four stretch, that can help you transition effectively from activity to relaxation mode. Adding the Myrtl stretching routine as a post-workout activity also plays an important role in strengthening your hips, glutes, thighs, and hamstrings.

Stretching is a runner’s best defense against the risk of running-related injuries. By incorporating morning stretches in your workout routine, you can help ease your sore muscles so you can continue to run forever.