Not sure that I would refer to myself as a ‘runner’, but since I dabble with a 5 or 10km each week I thought a good topic would be stretching.

Most conversations I have with clients, class goers and friends is that they don’t take time to stretch. I know that every second usually counts, and those extra minutes might make the difference when juggling school runs, club pick up and general ‘mum’ duties!
But it seriously is something you should not neglect if you want to stay injury free, and flexible.

Whether you are a fun runner, a park runner, a jog scotlander, or a club runner tackling more serious distances and races, then your legs are under a huge amount of stress during a run. This will be heightened if you have ill-fitting footwear, any kind of foot placement issue, or even veruccas causing pain in the sole of your foot. So its best to know how to take care of your limbs so they are fit for another run.

I would always advise serious runners to undergo a regular massage routine to release the tension in the muscles, and help workout any knots.
However if this is not in your budget or timescale, then there are definitely a few stretches that will help keep those legs working better!

Yoga is a great place to go, it also helps you reduce your mental stress and increase your ability to focus, which may help you on those longer runs.
The practice can be done at home, all you need is something to lie on, and loose clothing. There are plenty of yoga classes on offer too, but make sure they are targeted towards running and stretching to get maximum benefit.

Here are my 5 favourite yoga ‘poses’ or stretches to help ease the calves and hamstrings of any runner! Do each one for 10 breaths, and gradually try to extend the stretch.

Downward Dog:
Focus on getting a straight line from your hands through your back to your hips, open them up to the ceiling, and then press your heels towards the floor.
Gently extending the back of the legs.
Engage your core muscles.
Low or Runners Lunge:
A must for stretching the hip flexors, and strengthening the quads and hamstrings.
Press your hips forwards to increase the stretch, and keep your tailbone tucked and pointing to the floor. If you can extend your arms upwards, and let your gaze drift up.

Hamstring Stretch:
This one feels so amazing, even if your hamstrings are not that tight!
You need a resistance band for this one, loop it round one foot, and place the other on the floor. Increase the tension using your hands to pull the raised leg towards the torso, making sure to keep your torso in contact with the floor. Repeat with both sides.
Pigeon Pose:
Another of my favourites, this always make you feel good, and is so well used by people, and often recommended by physio’s for back and hip pain.
Start in a plank, and bring one leg forward and across infront of the other, then lower your back leg and hips to the floor. You can lay over your front knee, or keep elevated, make the stretch your own, and find those tight bits, hold on them for 30 seconds and then move to another spot.
So Simple but effective. Legs up the Wall:
This takes the tension right off the spine, and allows it to relax, lengthens the hamstrings, and glutes, you can sty here as long as you need, maybe even a few zzz’s.
They are after all natures best way to recover.

So next time you run, jog or even walk, take ten minutes to stretch and you will find your flexibility and your running will improve!

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