4 best stretches for runners

Hamstrings

The classic: From a standing position, bend one leg; straighten your other leg and push your hips back.

The tweak: Sit tall on a bench. Straighten one leg. Stop when your back starts to lose its lumbar curve, and hold this position. Do both sides. Hold each stretch for 30 seconds and repeat three times.

The payoff: This move isolates the hamstrings, as it doesn't allow the pelvis and lower back to sag.

Glutes

The classic Sit on the floor. Cross one leg over the other, placing your foot
 on the outside of the opposite thigh.

The tweak: Sit on a bench. With perfect posture and a good lumbar arch, cross one leg over the other, placing the foot on the outside of the thigh. With good posture, pull your crossed knee to your chest to feel a stretch in the buttock. Do both sides. Hold each stretch for 30 seconds and repeat three times.

The payoff: This stretches the glutes in a more functional way for running by keeping the pelvis in a neutral position.

Calves

The classic: Stand facing a wall with your feet shoulder-width apart, hands on the wall. Lean in, maintaining foot position.

The tweak: Make your feet pigeon-toed, drawing up your arches and keeping your knees straight. Hold each stretch for 30 seconds and repeat three times.

The payoff: This position ‘locks’ the feet for a better stretch of the calf muscles (the gastrocnemius, in particular). This is important if you overpronate or have flexible feet that tend to collapse in and take the stretch away from the calves.

Hip flexors

The classic: Start in a lunge position, front knee at 90 degrees and rear knee on the floor. Curl your pelvis under, flattening your lumbar curve, then take your weight forward onto your front leg to feel the stretch in the front of the rear leg’s hip.

The tweak: Raise the hand on the rear-leg side into a ‘stop’ position and side flex towards the front leg. Rotate your trunk towards your rear leg. You should feel the stretch in the front of the rear leg. Hold each stretch for 30 seconds and repeat three times.

The payoff: The rotation is more functional for running. It also lengthens the muscles along the front of the spine, which can get very tight in runners, drawing you into a slouchy posture.