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10 Recovery Stretches For Runners

10 Recovery Stretches For Runners Dana DeSutter Namastride Run Tri Bike Magazine

Stretching after a workout can speed up the recovery process and help you feel less sore. Did you know that it’s important to stretch your entire body, rather than just focusing on the main drivers of the activity (runners – there’s more to it than your legs!)? These 10 recovery stretches for runners are an excellent way to speed up your recovery. I recommend starting with standing poses, and moving to the floor. This allows your body to properly cool-down, and reduces the risk of blood pooling.

10 Recovery Stretches For Runners

  1. Shoulder Stretch – Clasp your hands at the base of your spine and look to the sky.You can also use a towel or a strap to create space between your hands if it’s hard to clasp them together. Squeeze the shoulder blades together lifting the chest.
  2. Lower Back – One option is to keep your hands clasped together at the base of your spine, or you can bring them in front of your body, reaching to the ground. Begin to bend forward into a fold, allowing gravity to release tension throughout the back. Connect your torso to your thighs, making sure you hinge at the hips and bend the knees as much as you need. Blocks can be used to help get into the pose too!
  3. Upper Back – This can be as simple as giving yourself a hug, or getting into a table top and starting a cat-cow stretch. Align your wrists under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Inhale, arching through the spine while looking forward (cat). Then on an exhale round through the spine, tilting the head forward and reaching the crown of the head toward the floor.
  4. Calves – From tabletop, extend one leg, and stretch through the back of the leg, feeling a great stretch in your calf. Press the heel towards the mat, feeling a stretch through the entire back of the leg.
  5. Shins – Move your leg back and forth from the calf stretch, feeling a shin stretch as well. Switch and repeat your calf and shin stretch on the other leg. 
  6. Feet – You can also focus on stretching through the bottom of your feet by fanning your toes.
  7. Hips – A pigeon stretch is my favorite, but it is important to save this until you’ve properly cooled down. From table top, slide one knee forward forward, bending the knee. Slide the other leg back, straightening through the leg. You can grab a pillow or bolster to make this even more relaxing. The key here is to keep your hips square to the front, and keep your foot as far under you as you need to protect your knee. I keep my foot underneath my torso, because I’m not very flexible.
  8. Quads –  After pigeon, you can come down completely to the floor, lying on your belly to stretch your quads. Bring one foot towards your tush, grabbing it with the same arm and stretch. Make sure your knee stays in-line with the hip, and doesn’t splay to the side. You can turn your head to the side, resting your cheek on the mat.
  9. Hamstrings – Make your way onto your back, and grab a towel or yoga strap. Lift one leg into the air, keeping a slight bend, and stretch through the hamstring, pressing the heel towards the sky.
  10. Ankles – While your leg is in the air, you can move the foot up and down and side to side to add an ankle stretch. Repeat the hamstring and ankle stretches on the other leg.

These 10 recovery stretches for runners will also help cyclists and swimmers. Don’t skip the post workout recovery stretch.

Finally, you can lie down in savasana, and allow yourself to enter a deep relaxation!

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Dana DeSutter Namastride Run Tri Bike Magazine

Dana is first and foremost a runner, having run 3 marathons and many half marathons. This love for running coupled with a few injuries led her to practice yoga. When she realized how much yoga improved her paces and diminished her aches and pains while running, she pursued her 200-hour yoga teaching certification, and she is now a Yoga Alliance certified yoga teacher. As a person with a day job, she focuses on helping the everyday runner feel good and enjoy running.