7 stretches for runners

You Can’t Out-run Leg and Back Pain, so Make Time to Stretch!

At our chiropractic clinic in Victoria BC, we see a lot of patients who are runners. They have either just taken up running as part of a health and fitness regime and have wound up with an injury, or they are seasoned runners who are using ongoing chiropractic care to enable themselves to go greater distances and train even harder. In both these scenarios, we use chiropractic care to both heal back and leg pain associated with running, and to prevent future injury.

All of our chiropractic care methods for athletes of all skill levels stress the importance of a proper warm-up and cool down – dynamic stretching while warming up, and static stretching for cooling down.

If you’re a seasoned runner, you already know the importance of stretching, but we’re here for you if you need a refresher! If you’re new to the activity, below are Mind Body Spine’s top stretches specifically for runners. For best results, combine these stretches with an investment in high-quality, properly fitted shoes and a respect for your body’s physical limitations, especially as you are just starting out.

Dynamic vs. Static Stretching

Within the health and fitness industry, you’ll always hear about the importance of stretching. More often than not, stretches will fit into two categories: dynamic vs static stretches.

  • Dynamic stretches are stretches that happen while your body is moving (in motion). They activate and loosen up your major muscle groups while increasing blood flow. Dynamic stretches are best done before a run.
  • Static stretches are done while your body is standing or sitting in place. They are best done after a run, to allow the heart rate to come down slowly and to prevent soreness and stiffness later on.

Dynamic Stretches

1. Standing Leg Swings – front to back

Good for: Activating the Hip Flexors and Glutes

How to: Hold onto a sturdy object like a wall or chair at your side for balance. Stand on your right leg while swinging your left leg forward and backward, slowly working your way up to your full range of motion (about 20 swings). Then switch legs and repeat.

2. Standing Leg Swings – side to side

Good for: Activating the Hip Abductors and Adductors

How to: Facing and bracing yourself with a wall for balance, stand on your right leg while swinging your left leg from side to side in front of you, this time slowly working your way up to your full range of motion (about 20 swings). Then switch legs and repeat.

3. Walking Lunges

Good for: Activating the Quads

How to: Take a large step forward with your right leg and dip your body so your right thigh is parallel to the floor, while keeping your right knee aligned with your ankle (not extended). Take your next lunge forward with your left leg and continue walking forward for about 10 steps per leg. Remember to keep your back straight and chest held high as you look forward.

There are many more dynamic stretches that benefit runners, including walking knee pulls, walking side lunches, walking toe taps, and walking leg kicks (toy soldiers).

Static Stretches

4. Kneeling Hip Flexor and Hamstring Stretch

Good for: Hip Flexors and Hamstrings

How to: From a kneeling position, step your right leg forward to plant the right foot in front of you. Keep your hands on your hips for the best balance. Ankle and knee should be aligned, and the knee at a 90 degree angle. Press and lean forward until you feel the stretch, keeping your back straight. Keep your left knee pressed into the ground. Hold for at least 30 seconds and the switch sides.

5. Standing Quad Stretch

Good for: Quads

How to: You’ve probably been doing this stretch since your elementary school gym glass days! From a standing position, bend your right leg behind you, bringing your heel as close to your glutes as you can. Use your hand to hold your right leg behind you in position for 30 seconds to two minutes. This can also be done lying down on your side for better balance.

6. Standing Calf Stretch

Good for: Calves

How to: Stand with your hands pressed against a wall at chest level. Place the ball of your right foot against the wall with your heel still touching the ground, gently lean into the wall while keeping your leg straight until you feel a stretch in your calve.

It looks just like this:

7. Seated Glute Stretches

Good for: Glutes and Hip Flexors
How to: In a seated position with both feet planted on the ground, bring your right leg up and rest your right ankle on your left knee while slowly leaning forward until you feel a stretch.

Check out our video for this stretch and two more similar stretches that feel great on your glutes, whether you’ve just run a 5K or you’re an office worker and ready for a body break.

If you want help and guidance with any of the above stretches, come and see us at Mind Body Spine. We would be happy to show you these and additional stretches that can help you with your new running hobby. You can also join a local running group, which can also provide a great introduction to stretches specifically for runners.

At the end of the day, there is an endless amount of stretches that benefit runners as much as they benefit cyclists and office workers. All people should stretch daily to minimize discomfort, better their posture, and reduce the risk of injury during physical activity, whether that’s from sports, gardening, shoveling snow, or hauling in the groceries.

Chiropractic Care for Runners

Common injuries that affect runners include tendonitis, shin splints, ankle sprains, hip pain, and knee strains. When these types of injuries occur, a runner can be out of the race for days or weeks at a time, which is why some runners commit to regular chiropractic care.

Chiropractic treatments such as spinal adjustments and alignments can increase a runner’s range of motion, decrease healing times for injuries, and minimize injuries in the first place. Talk about having a positive ripple effect through the body! The reason this happens is because spinal adjustments help loosen and relax joints, which allows for greater flexibility and wider movement. Combined with the right stretches, chiropractic care can help keep a runner on the track, and not on the sidelines.

Dr. Stephanie Louie at Mind Body Spine is a Victoria, BC, chiropractor with many years of experience helping runners of all ages heal faster and avoid future injury. Call Mind Body Spine at 250-885-2320 to book your appointment with Dr. Louie.