Stretching after running helps you stay flexible, increases your range of motion, helps your muscles recover from your workout, and may help prevent injuries. Here are five stretches that you can do after you have finished your run:
Extend your arms straight out and put the palms of your hands on a wall, fence, tree, or any other object at shoulder height, to help you keep your balance. Bend your right calf straight back at the knee, keeping your thighs facing forward and parallel. Grab onto your ankle with your right hand, while keeping your left hand on the wall. Pull your foot back and up towards your butt, while continue to keep your thighs facing forward. Hold for about 20 seconds or until you feel the muscles in the front of your thigh release. Repeat with the left leg. This should feel great!
Stand facing a bench or any object, such as a fence slat, that's about the same height. Extend your right leg straight forward, resting your right ankle on the bench. Stand up straight. Bend forward from the hips. Go as far forward as you can until you feel a tightness, but not pain, in your hamstring. Slide both hands as far down your extended leg towards your foot as you can. Hold for 20 seconds or until you feel the hamstring release. Then slowly bend forward even more until you again feel a tightness in your muscles. Hold for another 20 seconds. Repeat with the other leg.
Stand up straight and extend your right foot 12 inches in front of you. Bend your left knee slightly, and lift your right toes while keeping your right heel on the ground. Move your butt back, and shift your weight into your back foot. Hold for 20 seconds, then repeat with the other leg.
Hip Flexor Stretch
Move your right foot forward, but only a few inches -- not as far forward as you did for the calf stretch. Keep your forward foot flat on the floor. Bend both knees slightly. Contract your glutes (butt muscles). Tilt your pelvis forward while holding the contraction, and lean back slightly with your upper body. You should feel the stretch in your left hip flexor. Hold for 20 seconds and repeat on the other side.
Shoulder, Chest & Upper Back Stretch
Lift your right arm straight up. Bend it back at the elbow and place your right palm against your back, between your shoulder blades. With your left arm hanging down at your side, bend the forearm up at the elbow and place the back of your left hand against the middle of your back. If you can, stretch your right hand down and your left hand up until they meet, then clasp the fingers together. If your hands don't reach that far, then bring them as close together as you can. Hold for 20 seconds, then repeat on the other side.