Dynamic stretches are great before your workouts, but it’s post workout that static stretches shine. Static stretches are only effective if your muscles are already warmed up, so that you don’t cause an injury. Static stretching can help lengthen your muscles and stretch out any tightness that might occur during your workouts. If you’ve already worked out then you are ready for static stretching.
Stand with feet shoulder width apart. Take a giant step with your right foot outwards. You want to end up with your legs spread far apart, but able to still balance without needing assistance. This is not an actual split. Tuck your head to your chest and roll your spine down till your hands can touch the ground. Don’t worry if your hands don’t entirely touch the ground yet, just reach as far as you can. Hold this position for at least 20 seconds before rising back up. If you want to throw in a variation, hold the position in the center, and then touch your left foot for 20 seconds and your right foot for 20 seconds.
Curb your Calf
Calves are one of the most important muscles for runners to stretch after their runs. Find a curb and stand on top of it with your heels close to the edge. Balance on your right leg and bring your left leg back until just your big toe is on the curb. Keep your big toe on the top of the curb and drop the heel until your left heel touches the ground. You should feel the stretch in your left calf. If you are not in pain and want a better stretch, bend both of your knees and hold the stretch for at least 30 seconds.
Hamstrings and Lower Back
This is one of my favorite stretches, it’s super simple and relaxing. Lie down on your back. Slide your legs towards you until you can bring them up to your chest. Wrap both arms around your legs, like you are giving them a hug for a good workout. Hold this position for at least 30 seconds.
IT Band Stretch
From the hamstrings and lower back stretch, let go of your legs, but do not stretch your legs out. Cross your right leg so your right ankle lands on top of your left knee. Then hold your left leg with both hands behind the thigh. Slowly pull the left leg closer to you until you feel the stretch. Hold this position for at least 20 seconds before switching sides.
Start in a standing position with a straight back. Find your balance and bring your left leg up and crossed, so you end up with your left ankle on top of your right knee. If you can’t balance, find a tree or a wall to help you keep your balance. If you can balance on one leg rest your hands on your hips. Slowly bend your right leg until you feel the stretch. Once you feel like you are in a deep enough stretch hold and wait 30 seconds before switching legs.
This is a wonderful stretch after a swim workout, because it focuses on the shoulders. Start by standing in a comfortable position with your back straight. Raise your arms up and above your head. Rest the hand that you lead with on top of the other, for most it will be right hand on top of left hand. It will look like you are making a mountain peak with your arms. Take a few deep breathes in and out while holding this position. After you hold your arms directly above you, lean to the right and hold, then lean to the left and hold. This will help stretch out your shoulders and your obliques.
This is a hard stretch for many, but it is worth it. Start on the floor with your legs out in front of you. Take your right leg and pull it clockwise, so that the right foot is touching the right glute. Take your left leg and pull it counter clockwise, so that your left foot is touching your left glute. It will look like your legs are trying to make the letter M. This might already be painful for you, so if you feel the stretch don’t go any further. If you feel like you can go further, lean back and prop yourself up on your elbows and hold the stretch. If you can go further than that try leaning back until your shoulder blades touch the ground.
Using your foam roller after your workout is a great way to stretch out your muscles. Remember when you use your foam roller to isolate certain areas, instead of rolling all in one go. For example, you don’t, I repeat don’t, want to use your foam roller on your thighs roll under the knee and roll the hamstrings. Instead, use your foam roller on your thighs and then, after you rolled out your thighs, switch to rolling your hamstrings.
Remember to only use static stretches post-workout or after your body has been warmed up. These stretches will help increase flexibility and loosen up muscles that got tightened during your workout.