At the end of a tough run, you may feel satisfied and perhaps a bit tired. What do you do as soon as you stop running?
Running can be intense for your body. Depending on the speed and how you run, you can create a force that is up to 3 times your body weight on your legs each time you hit the ground.
Believe it or not, what you do in the 30 minutes following a run will directly affect how efficient your run turns out to be. When you eat, what you eat, and how you move to cool down your muscles and prevent injuries are critical factors to consider.
Here are some post-running tips, including the best exercise to do after running. Read this to ensure that your running brings you maximum benefits from your hard work, as well as efficient recovery and injury prevention.
Static stretches are the best kind of exercise to do after a run. Doing static stretches allow your muscles to cool down while retaining their flexibility after a challenging workout. These stretches will also help get the blood flowing to those parts of your body that need it for efficient recovery and avoid soreness the next day.
Static stretches also help lengthen your tendons and your connective tissue (like your IT band). By lengthening these tendons, you can help prevent injury.
The following are some excellent static stretches for runners. You can add an extra challenge to many of these exercises by incorporating a pull up band.
Pedal it out
This static stretch will help your Achilles tendons, which go from your heels to your calf muscles. These tendons help you move forward and are often the tendons most likely to suffer from prolonged running and possibly injury.
To perform this stretch:
- Get into the yoga position of downward dog.
- Make sure your spine is straight.
- Bend one knee while keeping your other heel on the ground as if you were about to pedal a bike.
- Hold your leg stretched in this position for about half a minute, then switch the legs. A little stretch should be felt in your calves.
Do low lunges
Performing these low lunges is an excellent way to loosen your hip flexors. These muscles are what drive your knees forward while you run. Many people are tight in the hips, so this is an excellent stretch for everyone.
To do these low lunges, get down on a mat with your right leg out straight behind you so that your right hip is close to the ground. Your right knee is close to the floor, and your toes are pointed. Hold yourself up with your left foot flat on the floor and your left knee bent above your left ankle. You can rest your arms on your left thigh. Face forward with your shoulders back and your gaze forward. Keep holding your leg in this position for half a minute. Afterward – switch to another leg.
If getting down onto the floor is uncomfortable for you, you can try a standing lunge stretch instead.
Try toe stretches
We often neglect stretching our toes, and yet our feet work hard when we run. Try this stretch for working the plantar fascia (the tissue connecting your toes to your heel bone).
Sit back on your heels, and then curl your toes underneath your feet. You should feel the stretch along the bottoms of your feet. Relax and hold it for 5 to 10 seconds.
Reverse toe stretches
Now do the reverse position, which will stretch the muscles around the shins from your knees to your ankles. Flex your feet beneath you so that you are still sitting on your heels. Your weight is on your toes. Relax and hold for 5 to 10 seconds. This is an excellent exercise for preventing shin splints.
This stretch helps your IT band and your piriformis muscle (muscles in your upper leg).
To do a reclining pigeon:
- Lie down on the ground keeping your back touching the ground straight.
- Bend your right knee towards your chest.
- Cross your left ankle just above your knee so that your left knee is bent out towards your left side.
- Draw your right knee towards your chest as far as you can.
- Hold this position for 30 seconds, then switch sides.
Reclining pigeon is a delicious stretch!
Time to stretch out that spine. While you’re still on the floor lying on your back, bend both knees and bring them down to the floor on your right side. Spread your arms out straight from your shoulders as if you are forming a cross. Now turn your head towards the left. You should feel the stretch across your core muscles. Hold for 30 seconds, then switch sides.