Runners are some of the athletes who deal with injuries the most. Whether it’s shin splints, IT band issues, or plantar problems, the list of things that can go wrong seems endless.
When you’re running, whether it’s a jog after work or in a high-level race, your whole body is working. When something’s out of sync, injuries happen and it can sideline you for days, weeks, or even years.
Muscle and joint tightness are something runners constantly deal with. A lot of runners are passionate stretchers, and staying loose can keep you out on the trail for much longer. If you are new to running or run a lot, you’ll likely come across hip tightness at some point, and it can really affect your stride.
Keeping your hips loose will keep your strides relaxed and long, and it will stop you from compensating by putting more strain on other parts of your body.
Here are 11 of the best hip stretches for running that you can try to help stay loose.
This is one of the most common hip stretches out there, and odds are you can see runners doing standing lunges to stretch out their hips at the track, in the park, or anywhere else you run. It’s a nice stretch because everyone can do it with relative ease.
Depending on how tight you are, you can stretch less or farther down. All you do is stand and then plant one foot in front of you. Lunge forward, careful to not let your knee line cross your toes. Push down to get your hip loose and then switch to the other leg.
Another great beginner stretch is when you sit on the ground and spread your legs out in front of you on the ground in a big V.
Spread your legs out as far apart as you can and then slowly lean forward with your hands on the ground. Focus your stretching on your hips to push them out and create more space in your joints.
Give this a try once after completing stretch #2, or if you feel like #2 hurts too much. Instead of spreading both of your legs far apart, simply sit on the ground and extend one of your legs to the side.
Bring your other foot to your thigh, sort of like you’re folding it, and then try to grab your toes and pull your face to your extended knee. After holding that stretch, you should feel comfortable going further out and farther down without so much pain.
This is a great, easy stretch for your hips before you run. Sit on the ground and then put the bottoms of your feet together. Pull your feet toward your hips and try to get your knees to touch the ground on either side.
This will take some work, and if you haven’t done it before you can use your elbows to help push your knees down a bit more. It’s a great stretch for your hip flexors.
This is a pose that does wonders for your hips before a run. It’s a nice stretch too because you can do it while standing. Be careful to keep your balance, though, because if you’re not used to it you could fall backward.
With this stretch, place your hands fingers pointed up on your butt, one on each bum cheek. Then, extend your chest and neck and push your head backward. Your arms should make the shape of a camel hump on your back. You’ll feel your hips pushing forward and stretching out.
This is a great stretch because it’s not something everyone learns in physical education class. If you’re doing some stretches, and they don’t seem to be working, this one could give you the breakthrough you’re looking for.
Not every runner is super flexible. In fact, some of the best runners in the world don’t do a lot of stretching, and touching their toes can be quite the challenge. Luckily, there are some stretches for people who can’t do the splits or feel weird trying the standing camel stretch.
With this basic hip stretch, all you have to do is lay on your back and then lift your legs, bringing your knees to your chest. Wrap your arms around your knees and hug them tightly to your body. You can try rocking back and forth a bit to get different angles on this hip stretch.
A lot of these stretches are something you’d probably see in your local yoga class. The pigeon pose is a fantastic stretch that will get your hips nice and loose. Sitting on the ground, stretch one of your legs behind you, toes facing down.
The other leg should come forward, and bend your knee so your toes go in the direction of the extended leg. Then, you can lean forward to really get a nice pressing stretch on the hip with the leg going backward. Switch legs for the other hip and press as much as you can.
Going down into a squat and holding there is also a good hip stretch before a run. This position is also sometimes called the garland pose. Essentially, you’re extending your hip flexors as you rest your weight in between your knees.
If you can, try to keep your heels planted flatly on the ground. If you can’t quite get there, just try to balance and work toward that goal. You can position your elbows in between your knees and push out for some extra stretching.
We’ve already covered the standing lunge stretch, but a slight variation of that stretch can give you a different look and provide more stability.
Instead of having your back leg up, you can rest your knee on the ground. With the other knee up and forward, you can press your hips forward and stretch it out as much as you can.
This one is a simple stretch that you can do sitting on the couch, before a run, or while you’re at a desk at work. All you have to do is take one leg and cross it over the other, leaving your ankle on top of your other knee.
You’re essentially making a triangle hole with the leg on top, and you can press your knee down and extend your hip to loosen things up.
This isn’t a very intense stretch, but it’s a nice way to prevent muscles and joints from tightening up after a run.
The side hip stretch is another relaxing stretch that you can use before or after a run. Lying flat on the ground, bring one of your legs over to the other side of your body. Put it on top of and across your other leg. Do your best to keep your back and shoulders flat on the mat.
If you want, you can wrap one of your hands underneath your knee and try to pull it up toward your head for maximum stretching. Switch sides and do the other leg as well.
These stretches will help you eliminate muscle pain and stay out running for longer.
Injury avoidance and pain management are keys to successful running, so stretch often if you want to stay in the best condition possible while you’re out there running miles every day.