Post run stretches: how to stretch after running to avoid achy legs

Posted by for Strong Women

Running can be hard on your body, so make sure you’re recovering properly with these post-run stretches. 

Today is Global Running Day, a celebration of moving your body. That feels more relevant than ever, given the fact that many of us took up running ten weeks ago when lockdown began, and has been a physical and mental escape from staying inside. 

If you’re still keeping it up, congratulations. But if you’re struggling to get your runs in because of sore knees, aching muscles or poor performance, don’t beat yourself up. There might be a simple but important fix. 

Looking after your body before and after the run is just as important as what you do during the workout. Cool-down exercises in particular exercise will help you perform at your best, recover well, and avoid injury

With that in mind, these are some of the best post-run stretches you can do to boost your workout. 

How to stretch after running

When you’ve finished your run, you need to cool your body down properly. This will help you to ease your body out of the workout, and will stretch out your muscles so they don’t tighten up before your next run.

Walking for up to 10 minutes after you’ve finished running will take the body into a more relaxed state so it’s ready to stretch and ease tightness. Unlike in your warm-up, post-run stretches should be mostly static and held for at least 10 seconds. 

Try these post-run stretches

Hip flexor stretch 

Hip problems are common in runners, so you need to make sure you’re stretching your hip flexors adequately after you run.

To do a hip flexor stretch, kneel on the floor on your right knee, with your left leg out in front of your body at a 90 degree angle and foot planted firmly on the floor. Lean forward gently at your hips, and hold for between 10 and 30 seconds. Do the same on the other side. 

Hamstring stretch

Start this stretch by lying on your back with your knees bent and feet on the floor. Lift your right leg up and straighten it, so that it ends up forming a right angle with your torso. Hold your right leg just below your knee and pull it gently towards you. Hold for up to 30 seconds and repeat with the other leg.

Calf stretch

Many runners will experience tight calves at some point. To give them a proper stretch and ease the muscles after your run, start by standing up straight and stepping your right leg forward. Bend the right knee and keep your left leg straight behind you, and lean slightly forwards. Push your left heel towards the ground, and hold for between 10 and 30 seconds. Then return to the start position and do the same on the other side. 

Child’s pose

This one might be familiar to you if you’ve ever been to a yoga class. Child’s pose is great for stretching out your back, and it’s a really relaxing pose to finish off with. Start on your hands and knees, and then slide your arms forwards and lower your body down towards the ground. Stop when your torso is touching your upper thighs and your arms are fully extended out in front of you. Hold this position for around 30 seconds. 

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