5 Post-Exercise Stretches to Keep You Moving

Lengthen what you strengthen! Need some ideas for good lower body stretches after your run or tough workout? Add these to your arsenal.


By MMF Ambassador Sarah Kane


Our bodies were made to move, but most of us sit more than we move. As a result, our hips and lower body are in a contracted position more often than not. When we exercise, we warm up our muscles and increase blood flow, which allows the perfect opportunity to stretch afterwards.


These are 5 of my favorite stretches to do AFTER a run, or any workout. It takes about 5 minutes but helps prevent tightness in your muscles that could derail your training plans and land you in physical therapy.


1. Hip Flexor Stretch


Kneel on one leg with each knee at 90*, hands on hips, lean slightly forward and hold. You should feel the stretch in the front of the bottom leg, specifically near your hip joint.


Concentrate on the quality of stretch in your hip flexor, not how far forward you tip your torso.


Hold for 15-30 seconds each side and repeat 2-4 times, depending on how tight you feel.


Ways to modify: kneel on a mat, pad, or towel if kneeling bothers you.


2. IT Band Stretch


Standing up straight, cross one leg in front of the other. Then reach the same hand as front leg over your head. Lean toward the side your hand is reaching. You should feel this on the outside of your hip and down your outer thigh.


Concentrate on the quality of stretch in your outer hip more so than your torso and lats (although this is also a great obliques and lat stretch).


Hold for 15-30 seconds each side and repeat 2-4 times.


Ways to modify: stand near a wall, counter, or chair to help you keep your balance and increase the quality of the stretch if you keep tipping.


3. Hamstrings Stretch


Keeping your back FLAT and your legs straight, reach down for your toes. You should feel this in the back of your legs. Take deep breaths and slowly try to get closer to your toes while still keeping your back flat (don't round your back or "curl down" towards your toes).


Concentrate on the quality of stretch in the back of your legs more than how far down you get. If you feel a pull in your lower pack, you are rounding and need to come out carefully and not bend as far next time.


Hold for 15-30 seconds and repeat 2-4 times.


Ways to modify: you can do the same motion sitting down with one or both legs extended (if both is too intense, try one straight and the other tucked in butterfly style, then switch). Still concentrate on not rounding your back, but simply tipping forward from the hips.


4. Glutes Stretch


Take one leg and cross your ankle over your other leg just above the knee. Gently sit back as if you are going to sit into a chair, applying slight pressure to your bent knee. You should feel this in your outer hips, and glutes of the bent leg.


Concentrate on the quality of stretch in the glutes more than how far down you go. Be sure not to round your back.


Hold for 15-30 seconds each side and repeat 2-4 times.


Ways to modify: hold onto a bar, counter, or secure strap as you lower so you can focus on the stretch not your balance. You can also do the same motion lying on your back: your "standing" leg will be bent up in a 90* table-top position and you will cross the other leg ankle-across-knee as pictured.


5. Quads Stretch

The runner's powerhouse! Pull one ankle toward your butt, keeping your knees aligned and close together, and push your hips slightly forward. You should feel this in the front of your leg, and even up toward the front of your hips.


Concentrate on the quality of stretch in the quads more than how close you get your ankle to your butt.


Hold for 15-30 seconds each side and repeat 2-4 times.


Ways to modify: stand with your other hand on a wall or counter so you can focus on the stretch not your balance.


While it might seem cumbersome to spent the extra few minutes stretching after a workout, I promise you your muscles will appreciate it and your flexibility will grow!


Sarah is an avid runner and a MMF Ambassador. Follow her online and on Facebook or Instagram.

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