Important stretches for runners

Top ten muscle stretches

Here is a guide to what you should be stretching and how you can stretch safely. We'll show you how to avoid injury, how you can stay flexible and how to stretch every part of your body:


Stretching needs to be done gradually and for maximum benefit the stretch should be held for approximately 30 seconds. Holding a stretch releases the tension in the muscle permitting the stretch to be increased further.

Please remember not to 'bounce' when stretching! This is an easy mistake to make, and one that could lead to a pulled or torn muscle.In order to avoid injury do not stretch if you are experiencing any muscular discomfort or tightness.

Stretching needs to be an integral component of any pre and post run activity. The stretches performed after training are especially important as they help to release tightness built up in the muscles. Here's our top ten stretches for runners:

Back stretch

Taking hold of your left elbow with your right hand, ease the elbow up, leading it across your body, so that your hand can touch the space between the shoulder blades. Slowly apply more pressure to the elbow to allow the hand to be gently pushed further down the back. Increase the stretch only as far as it is comfortable for you. This stretches out the triceps and shoulders. Repeat the stretch on the opposite side.

Hamstring stretch

Lie on your back and raise your left leg, holding it up and straight. Bend the right leg so that the right foot is flat on the floor. Using a towel hook the left foot so that the towel rests in the arch of the foot. Gradually pull the towel in towards you whilst pushing away with your foot. You should feel the muscles contract but no discomfort. Repeat the stretch on the right side. 

Quadriceps stretch

Kneeling on the ground keep your torso upright. In this pose your body, from the knees up, is at a ninety degree angle to your lower legs. Hold your arms at your sides. Keeping your torso up and straight move as if to sit on your heels (without actually doing so). Hold this stretch for ten seconds.

Heel to rear end

Stand up tall and place your left hand on the wall for support. Try to keep your posture straight all the way through this stretch. Stand on your right foot. Raise the heel of your left foot so that you can grasp it with your right hand. Lift the left foot up to your rear (or as close as you comfortably can). This stretches the quadriceps. Repeat on the right.

Hip and lower back stretch

Sit up tall, on the floor, with your legs out in front of you. Raise your left leg and cross it over the right leg. Keeping the right leg bent bring the left leg into your chest. Turn your torso from the hip so that you can look over your left shoulder. Repeat on the right.

Hamstring and back stretch

Lie on your back with your knees bent. Pull in your shins to your chest to stretch your hamstrings and lower back.

Quads and lower back stretch

Lie on your back and, with your feet flat on the ground, lift your hips up until your body forms a flat plane. Repeat this 10 times holding for 30 seconds each occasion.

Groin stretch

Sat on your backside, pull in your feet and put the soles of the feet together. Place gentle pressure on the inside of your knees with your elblow, and slowly lean forward while continuing the pressure on the knees.

Calf stretch

Stand about three feet from a straight wall, with your feet at shoulder width. Place both hands on the wall with arms straight for support. Lean your hips forward and bend your knees progressively to stretch your calves.

Leg stretch

From the starting position outlined in the calf stretch, bend forward to lower your body to waist height. Bring one foot forward with your knee slightly bent. Lift the toes of the front foot to stretch the muscle under the calf. Do this with both legs. 

Comments (1)

  • buttershap 'Hamstring and back stretch causes extra rounding of the lower back. It's better to place one arm under the hollow of the back to help maintain its natural curve.'

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