When you find the time to run, you probably want to dive right in. But if you’ve just rolled out of bed or sat at work for most of the day, you may be skipping an important step — stretching.
"Running is a demanding exercise. It’s important to prepare your body for your run and give yourself time to cool down," says Michael Garrison, certified running coach, competitive runner, and founder of Hawaii Running Lab. "One of the best ways to do that is to stretch before and after your run."
Garrison recommends that runners try a combination of dynamic stretches, which repeat a similar motion, and static stretches, which are held in place for short periods of time. If you'd like to give it a try, check out this routine from Garrison and Hawaii Running Lab athlete Shelby Thirkill.
Before your run:
Straight leg swing
How to do it: Plant one foot on the ground and swing your other foot across your grounded foot and hold for 3-5 seconds. Repeat 12-15 times and switch sides.
How to do it: Start in a standing position and place your hands on your hips. Keep your left foot sturdy, cross your right foot over the left, and extend your hip to the left. Adjust your position so that both of your feet are still crossed but your weight is evenly distributed. Reach your arms up and bend over. Hold the stretch for 3-5 seconds, switch sides, and repeat 5-10 times.
Down dog lunge
How to do it: Kneel on your hands and knees. Spread your fingers and press down through the base of your thumb and forefinger. Lift your hips and send your heels toward the ground. Your body should look like an upside-down V. Next, bring your left foot into a lunging position on the outside of your left palm. Hold for 3-5 seconds, return to your upside-down V, and repeat on your right side. Alternate between your left and right 5-10 times.
Swinging hamstring stretch
How to do it: Start in a standing position and extend your right arm straight in front of you. Keep your left leg planted and raise your right leg toward your extended right hand. Swing your right leg back, extending your right arm forward, and your left arm back. Your body should look like a T. Hold for 3-5 seconds and switch sides. Repeat 5-10 times.
After your run:
How to do it: Kneel on your hands and knees. Spread your fingers and press down through the base of your thumb and forefinger. Lift your hips and send your heels toward the ground. Your body should look like an upside-down V.
How to do it: From your down dog, lower your hips into a plank position and lower your body to the ground. Bend your arms and place your hands on either side of your chest below your shoulders. Inhale and squeeze your shoulder blades together. Exhale, push through your palms and the tops of your feet, straighten your arms, and bring your torso and hips off the floor. Your weight should be evenly distributed between your hands and feet. Hold for 15-20 seconds.
Cross leg glute stretch
How to do it: Lie flat on your back and bend both knees. Rest your right ankle on your left knee. Gently pull your left leg to your chest as you push your right knee away from you until you feel a stretch. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds and switch sides.
Standing quad stretch
How to do it: Start in a standing position. Reach back and grab your right foot with your right hand and gently pull your leg toward your butt. Hold on to something sturdy, if needed. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds and switch sides.
HMSA members can save on coaching with Hawaii Running Lab. Learn more at hmsa.com/well-being.
Photos by Earl Yoshii.