We all know a post-run stretch routine is important after we log our miles, but how often do we actually take the time? (Cue the crickets.)
Whether you’re strapped for time or—let’s be honest—just not feeling a full-fledged stretch routine, know that something actually is better than nothing. And that’s especially true after a run, when muscles like your hamstrings, quads, hip flexors, glutes, and calves tend to tighten up and stiffen.
Post-run stretching is a simple way to boost recovery, ease muscle tension, and make mobility gains—and there’s no threshold you have to hit to start reaping results, Brian Schwabe, P.T., D.P.T., C.S.C.S., a board-certified sports physical therapist, tells SELF. That means any time you spend gently stretching your muscles is going to help your body, even if you can’t devote a whole lot of time to it.
That said, if you only have a couple of minutes to stretch, you’ve got to make your stretches count to the max. “The big three areas you want to focus on are thoracic spine, hips, and ankles,” he says. “These tend to be the most restricted, and when worked on consistently, can add the most benefit to your running and recovery.”
Meanwhile, adding some dynamic movements in addition to the traditional static stretching can help you gradually lower your heart rate (aka, the all-important cool-down) and stretch at the same time. If you’re going for efficiency, you might as well do it all the way, right?
This 2-minute post-run stretch routine, courtesy of Schwabe, does just that. Set the timer and you’re good to go.
What you need: Nothing at all! You can use a yoga mat for added comfort if you’d like, though.
- Downward dog to runner’s lunge
- Standing quadricep stretch
- Standing hamstring stretch
Perform the runner’s lunge for 60 seconds, the quadricep stretch for 15 seconds per side, and the hamstring stretch for 30 seconds.
Demoing the moves below are Shauna Harrison (GIF 1), a Bay-area based trainer, yogi, public health academic, advocate, and columnist for SELF; and Charlee Atkins (GIFs 2 and 3), C.S.C.S., creator of Le Sweat TV.
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