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Every Runner Needs Both: Stretching AND Strengthening

3/18/14 4:12 PM
The title for this week says it all -  every runner needs both stretching and strengthening. No one wants to hear it, but deep down we all know it's true.

Let's dig into Stretching...

No matter the length or intensity of a run, stretching is a very critical piece of preparing for and cooling down from that run. 

  • Warm up stretching should be minimal and non-aggressive prior to running. Follow the run up with some more extensive and aggressive stretching.
  • Major muscles and muscle groups should be stretching at both times. These include: quadriceps, hamstrings, calves, hip rotators, shoulders and upper/lower back.
  • Each of these groups are important and involved in running. Keep them happy and they will keep you running happily.

What about Strengthening?

Most runners have an urge to satisfy and want to get out there and just RUN, right? However to be a really good runner, you should supplement your running routine with a strengthening regimen to improve your performance and reduce risk of injury. 

  • Forward movement in running is partially generated by bending at the hip to bring your leg forward (pro tip: this is called hip flexion). This movement is accelerated by your gluts/buttocks contracting to extend your leg behind you (another pro tip: this is called hip extension). 
  • These motions also require stability to land on your foot properly with each stride - which is supplied by the total package that is your hip musculature. Good strength and control in your hips (and many other areas of your body) is one of the key components to good, strong running.

Check out the video below for some simple stretching/strengthening exercises you can do at home to get started. These are all compound exercises to improve (primarily) hip and knee strength.



If you experience any new symptoms or pain while running or trying these exercises, we advise seeking some professional advice. One of our Physical Therapists in Syracuse, Baldwinsville, Cicero or Liverpool would be happy to perform an injury screening assessment to help get you started with running or maintain ability to run so you don't have to miss a step!

Written by Mary Smith.

Mary Smith, PT is currently practicing as a Physical Therapist in our Baldwinsville office. She specializes in (and enjoys) treating injured runners to get them back to their craft, or simply reaching their best.

Topics: running, exercises