I don't think I've ever met a runner who doesn't suffer from tight hips, hamstrings, or a lower back. The receptive movements and strengthening aspect of running can cause tight muscles that need extra attention. Of course you should never skip the stretching session after a run, but here are three lower-body stretches you should do every day — even on the days you don't run.
What it stretches: sides of the hips and hip flexors
How to do it:
- Come into a lunge position with the right foot forward and the left leg extended behind you, toes relaxed. Make sure there's enough distance between your feet so your front knee is at a 90-degree angle. Lower your hands to the floor to the left of your right foot.
- Keep your front foot where it is and slowly lower your right knee outward, so you're resting on the outside of your right flexed foot. Keep your arms straight, pressing your chest forward just like in Upward Facing Dog; this will help encourage your hips to lower, increasing the stretch.
- Gaze forward and enjoy Open Lizard for 30 seconds and then switch sides.
Keep reading to find out how to do the above stretch and one more that will target your hamstrings.
Toe Breaker Triceps Stretch Into Hero Pose
What it stretches: feet, calves, quads, and triceps
How to do it:
- Kneel on a mat or carpet. Tuck your toes toward your knees and slowly lower your pelvis to your heels. If this is enough just stay here focusing on your feet, but if you want to add the triceps stretch then reach your right arm overhead and your left arm behind your lower back. Bend both elbows and try to touch your fingers together or even clasp them as in Cow Face pose.
- Stay in this stretch for 30 seconds and then slowly lift your hips off your heels. Separate your feet slightly, point your toes away from your knees, and sit back down between your heels to stretch the tops of your feet. Stay here or walk your hands behind you, lowering your back toward the floor, laying all the way down if you can to stretch your quads in Hero pose.
- Rise up into a seated position and repeat these two stretches, this time with the left elbow pointing up.
Seated Wide-Legged Straddle
What it stretches: lower back, shoulders, and hamstrings
How to do it:
- Sit on the floor with your legs in a straddle position with about three to four feet between your heels. Make sure your toes and knees are pointing straight up. Sit with a tall spine, extending the crown of your head away from your hips.
- Stay here if this is enough for your hamstrings, or slowly fold forward at your hips, pressing your belly button and chest forward to prevent your back from rounding. Either support the weight of your torso with your hands on your legs or feet, or rest them out in front of you.
- Hold for 30 seconds and then for a variation, walk your hands over to the right side, folding over that leg, further stretching the right hamstring. After 30 seconds or so, walk your hands and torso over to the left side.