You put in the time pounding the pavement, celebrating the kilometres as they disappear behind you…

But when you reach your target though, triumphant and full of endorphins, are you treating your muscles to a good celebratory stretch?

Once you’ve arrived home from your run, it’s tempting to simply slump into a chair, hit the shower or hurry on to your next commitment (which you may well have been ruminating on for the whole of your run anyhow).

But this would be a mistake because taking the time for a few post-run stretches is vital to assist in injury prevention and decreasing muscle soreness.

In addition, a good stretch helps to build flexibility (think of those poor tight muscles!) and helps to relieve tension.

If you’d like to read more about the importance of post-run stretches, see here.

You should not feel any pain when holding stretches, rather a mild-to-moderate stretch in the muscles being stretched. If you do experience any pain, reduce the depth or the duration of the pose so you are feeling only a moderate stretch in the muscles.

Here’s nine of our favourite post-run stretches that every runner should try.

Hamstring Stretch

Stand with your right foot a few inches in front of your left, with the right toes lifted.

Bend the left knee, leaning forward from your hips and folding down on your right leg by resting both palms on your right thigh or knee for balance.

Hold the pose for 30 seconds. Repeat with the other leg.

Thigh Stretch

Holding the top of your left foot behind you, gently pull your heel towards your left buttock to stretch the front of the thigh, keeping the knees touching. 

Focus on keeping straight and avoid leaning, whether it is to the side or forward (if you struggle to keep your balance, feel free to place a hand on a wall or bench)

Hold the pose for 30 seconds. Repeat with the other leg.

Hip Flexors and Psoas Stretch

Start in a forward lunge position and place your hands on your lead knee.

Lower your left knee to the ground and press down with your hands extending the hips forward until you start feeling a stretch in the front of your thigh, groin and hip. Focus on keeping your pelvis tucked in.

Hold the pose for 30 seconds. Repeat with the other leg.

The Forward Hang (Lower Back, Glutes, Hamstrings and Calves Stretch)

Stand with your feet hip-distance apart and knees slightly bent. Next, on the exhale, bend at your waist and fold forward from the hips reaching for the floor.

Reach as far as you can – grabbing onto your shins, ankles or toes. (for a deeper stretch, interlace your fingers behind your back). Hold the pose for one full minute and breathe deep to release any tension.

The Standing Chest Stretch

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, lace your fingers together behind your back and straighten your arms.

Focus on relaxing your shoulders and with your arms straight, squeez your shoulder blades together while aiming to extend your elbows out to the sides to open and stretch your chest.

Hold the pose for 30 seconds.

Standing IT Band Stretch

Cross your left leg behind your right. Lean slightly forwards and to the right until you start feeling a stretch on the outside of your left leg. To deepen this stretch you can raise your left arm while bending to the right.

Hold the pose for 30 seconds. Repeat with the other leg.

The Inner Thigh Stretch

Stand with your feet wider than your hips, with your toes turned out. 

Slowly bend your knees, squatting straight down while either keeping your hands on your thighs or nestling your elbows into your inner thigh, until you start feeling a stretch all over the inner thighs.

Focus on keeping your shoulders relaxed and back straight throughout the stretch, and never allow your knees to move past your toes.

Hold the pose for 30 seconds.

Butterfly (Hips and Lower Back) Stretch

A young woman doing a butterfly stretch as one of her post-run stretches

Sit on the ground, bend your knees and bring the soles of your feet together. 

Fold forward to increase the stretch.

Hold the pose for 30 seconds.

Buttock Stretch

Lie on your back with your knees bent and both feet flat on the floor. Cross your right leg over your left thigh and grasp the back of your left thigh with both hands, gently pull the left leg toward your chest.

Hold the pose for 30 seconds. Repeat with the other leg.

Remember that staying limber is a great preventative measure, but not a perfect one.

If you experience pain which persists for more than three days or if it feels something more than simply tired muscles, please consult a medical professional.

And if you’d like a learn how you can prepare to avoid running injuries, see here.