The 12 Best Post-Run Stretches: Stretches To Do After Running

Time to stretch! 

Few runners enjoy hearing this phrase, and most of us avoid stretching at all costs. Unless, of course, our performance begins to decline due to exceedingly tight, sore muscles. Then we start to consider it.

Yes, stretching tacks on extra time to our workouts, and it’s hard enough to work training into our usual busy schedules with work, family, and other responsibilities. In addition, most of us don’t take joy in stretching much at all. Most runners aren’t all that flexible, so it’s not the most enjoyable part of our training.

Despite these conflicted feelings about stretching after you run, it is essential. Stretches to do after running should be added to your post-workout routine.

In this guide, we have compiled a list of the best post-run stretches, complete with instructions and gifs for you to add to your next workout. 

More specifically, we will discuss:

  • The Benefits of Post-Run Stretches For Runners
  • What is Static Stretching? 
  • Tips for Static Stretching
  • Cool Down Routine For Runners
  • 12 Post-Run Stretches (including complete instructions + gifs!)

Ready? 

Let’s stretch! 

Post-run stretch: hip flexor stretch.

The Benefits of Post-Run Stretches For Runners

Why is a proper cool down, including post-run stretches, significant after your runs? 

To start, stretching helps return your body and mind to a relaxed state by increasing blood circulation to your muscles while bringing your heart rate down. 

Let’s look at the potential benefits you can experience if you add post-run stretches to your routine. 

Post-Run Stretches: 

  • Help relieve muscle soreness or the DOMS after running.

These are some great reasons to add in at least a 5-6 minute bout of stretching at the end of your training sessions. 

Now let’s take a close look at static stretching, the type of stretching we perform after exercise.

Post-run stretch: side lunges.

What is Static Stretching? 

Static stretching is when the same position is held for a prolonged period, ideally for 45-60 seconds, as opposed to dynamic stretching, which is stretching in constant movement. 

When static stretching, the muscles being stretched do not stay in their natural range of motion but are gently pushed under mild tension. This is why it is important to only static stretch after workouts, as muscles are warmed up and will not strain under this tension. 

All of the post-run stretches in this guide will be static stretches to help provide the previously mentioned benefits. 

Tips For Static Stretching 

Here are some pointers to ensure you perform these post-run stretches properly: 

  • Static stretch after your run, not before.
  • Hold each of these post-run stretches for 45 – and 60 seconds to reap optimal benefits. 
  • Relax your muscles while holding the stretch to allow yourself to stretch deeper.
  • Breath deeply while you stretch, as this will help your muscle relax. With each exhale, try to gently stretch the muscle a tad more. 
  • Stretch your muscles gently. You should feel mild tension but not pain. If you feel pain, let up on the stretch or stop altogether.
Post-run stretch: quad stretch.

Cool Down Routine For Runners

Ideally, you want to include an entire cool-down routine for after your runs, just as you should have a warm-up routine before your runs. 

After your workout, cool down with 5-10 minutes of walking or easy jogging to bring your heart rate back to a normal rate. After you cool down, add about 5 – 6 minutes of post-run static stretching. 

You do not need to perform all these post-run stretches after each run. Instead, choose a few daily, focusing on major muscle groups used, such as the quads, hamstrings, calves, and glutes.

Perform each of these movements for a minimum of 30 seconds each, ideally 45-60 seconds. Adding these post-run stretches into your routine will be worth the benefits.

Let’s get into our post-run stretches! 

12 Post-Run Stretches For Runners

For your daily runs you may be lucky enough to just walk out your front door, run, and come back home. Others may need to drive to a specific neighborhood, park, trail, or track.

It is important to stretch immediately after your cool down so your muscles are still warm. This means that some of you may be able to stretch in the comfort of your own home, and some, will have to do so out on the road. 

Therefore, I included post-run stretches that you can do in a standing position if you are outside and ones that can be done on the floor if you are home or have a stretching mat with you.

Choose the stretches most convenient for you; just be sure to stretch! 

#1: Standing Quad Stretch

Post-run stretch: Standing quad stretch.
  1. Stand with your feet at shoulder-width apart. 
  2. Bend your right knee behind you and bring your right heel toward your right glute. 
  3. Hold your foot with your right hand.
  4. Gently pull your heel upwards and toward your glute. Ensure your knees are kept close together. 
  5. Hold this position for 45-60 seconds. 
  6. Repeat on the other leg.

#2: Lying Side Quad Stretch 

Post-run stretch: lying quad stretch.
  1. Lie on your right side and prop yourself up with your right forearm.
  2. Bend your left knee and take your left foot in your left hand. 
  3. Pull your left foot toward your left glute, keeping your knees together. 
  4. Hold this position for 45-60 seconds. 
  5. Repeat on the other side.

#3: Standing Hamstring Stretch

Post-run stretch: standing hamstring stretch.
  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart. 
  2. Step your right foot forward slightly, placing your right heel on the ground and flexing your foot.
  3. Bend your left knee slightly. 
  4. Bend at the waist and bring your torso toward your extended leg until you feel a stretch, keeping your back straight. 
  5. Hold this position for 45-60 seconds. 
  6. Repeat on the other side. 

#4: Lying Hamstring Stretch With Resistance Band 

Post-run stretch: resistance band hamstring stretch.

You will need a long resistance band, cord, or towel for this stretch. 

  1. Lie on your back with your legs extended out in front of you. 
  2. Loop a resistance band around the sole of your left foot and hold each side of the resistance band in either hand. 
  3. Lift your left leg towards you until it is perpendicular to your body. 
  4. Using the resistance band, pull your leg gently toward your body until you feel the stretch, keeping your knee extended. 
  5. Keep your back and other leg flat on the floor at all times. 
  6. Hold this position for 45-60 seconds. 
  7. Repeat on the other side.

#5:  Standing Hip Flexor Lunge Stretch 

Post-run stretch: standing hip flexor stretch.
  1. Stand tall with your feet at hip-width apart. 
  2. Step forward with your left foot. 
  3. Keeping both feet flat on the ground, drive your left knee slightly forward while simultaneously arching your torso ever so gently back. 
  4. Hold this position for 45-60 seconds. 
  5. Repeat on the other side.

#6: Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch 

Post-run stretch: floor hip flexor stretch.
  1. Start in a kneeling lunge position with your right leg in front of you at 90 degrees and your left knee on the floor directly underneath your body.
  2. Engage your core and keep your back straight and place your hands on your hips.
  3. Shift your body and your right knee forward, keeping your upper body straight. 
  4. Hold this position for 45-60 seconds. 
  5. Repeat on the other side. 

#7: Lateral Lunge Stretch

Post-run stretch: lateral lunge stretch.

You will feel this post-run stretch in your adductors. You can rest your arms on your bent leg to deepen the stretch.

  1. Stand tall with your feet facing forward and hips a bit wider than shoulder-width apart.
  2. Bend your left knee, hinge at the hips and sit back to the left side lowering into a side lunge.
  3. Hold this position for 45-60 seconds. 
  4. Repeat on the other side.

#8: Adductor Floor Stretch

Post-run stretch: adductor floor stretch.
  1. Begin in a kneeling position on the floor. 
  2. Take your right foot and stretch it out to the side keeping your toes pointing forward. Be sure your torso stays straight over your kneeling leg. 
  3. Place your hands out on the floor in front of you.
  4. Push your hips backward as you simultaneously reach your hands further out in front of you.
  5. Hold this position for 45-60 seconds. 

#9: Lunging Calf Stretch

Post-run stretch: standing calf stretch.
  1. Stand tall with your feel together.
  2. Take a step backward with your right foot.
  3. Lean forward slightly, keeping your back straight.
  4. Press your right heel into the ground for a calf stretch. If this movement is too easy, place your right foot even further behind you for a deeper stretch.
  5. Hold the position for 45-60 seconds. 
  6. Repeat on the other side. 

 #10: Single-Leg Downward Dog Calf Stretch

Post-run stretches: Downward dog calf stretch.
  1.  Start in the classic downward dog yoga pose. 
  2. Lift your right foot off the ground and place it on your left calf, helping push your left heel into the ground.
  3. Hold this position for 45-60 seconds. 
  4. Repeat on the other side.

#11: Standing Figure Four Glute Stretch 

Post-run stretch: figure four standing glute stretch.

This one of our post-run stretches takes quite a bit of balance and stability to perform it correctly. Therefore, you may need to hold onto something to keep from toppling over, or perform it seated or on the floor.

  1. Standing on your right leg, bend your left leg at a 90-degree angle, placing your left ankle on your right knee. Keep your right knee slightly bent for better stability. 
  2. Bend your right knee even more until you reach a squat position. 
  3. Place your left hand on your left knee and gently push down to feel the stretch.
  4. Slightly lean your torso forward, keeping your back perfectly straight.
  5. Hold this position for 45-60 seconds. 
  6. Repeat on the other side. 

#12: Lying Figure Four Glute Stretch 

Post-run stretches: floor glute stretch.
  1. Lie on your back and cross your right foot over your left knee. 
  2. Take hold of your left leg with both hands and gently bring your knee toward you.
  3. Keep your back and head relaxed, flat on the floor.
  4. Hold this position for 45-60 seconds. 
  5. Repeat on the other side. 

Now you have plenty of post-run stretches to choose from whether you need to stretch on the track, or in the comfort of your own home. 

Choose at least one stretch from each muscle group, and don’t forget to hold the stretch for the amount of time indicated to really reap the benefits. 

If you are look for a pre-run routine to add to your workouts, check out our Dynamic Stretch For Runners Guide. 

Photo of author
Katelyn is an experienced ultra-marathoner and outdoor enthusiast with a passion for the trails. In the running community she is known for her ear to ear smile even under the toughest race conditions. She loves sharing her knowledge and experience with everyone and has a great desire to motivate others to hit the trails alongside her. Run for fun!

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