Best Stretches for Beginner Runners From a Coach!

This is the third post in my Running Tips for Beginners series. 

mbmToday I’m really excited to share an interview I did with Lisa from Mile by Mile Blog.

Lisa is an RCCA certified running coach. She’s also super dedicated to doing all of the little things right from stretching to foam rolling. Today she’s going to share her top tips for keeping our bodies working like well oiled machines.

I hope you enjoy her tips and be sure to follow her on Instagram for daily motivation!

1.  What are your top recommendations for stretches to do before starting a run or run/walk session?

I like to focus on dynamic stretches, like leg swings, lunges, and hip circles.

Some people really like to do static stretching before running and if it works for you I would say to continues doing what you’re doing! However, some research has shown that stretching before a run may make your muscles slightly less efficient.

I find that the dynamic stretches help you warm up and move your body through a full range of motion.

2. How soon before a run should you stretch? 

Give yourself a good 5-10 minutes to warm up before a run.

If you are doing a hard workout, you could always walk or start an easy run and then stop and do some dynamic stretches before starting the “workout” part of your run.

3. How long should you hold stretches?

Since I am talking about dynamic stretches, you wouldn’t hold them at all, but you should do each stretch for about 20-30 seconds.

4. Do you recommend stopping to stretch if something feels tight during a run, or do you recommend waiting to stretch at the end?

This is all about personal preference and what works for you. Remember that a few seconds of stretching isn’t going to fix the problem, but it may make you feel a little better.

5. What are your recommended stretches to do after a run? How soon after should you stretch? How long should you hold the stretches?

The only static stretch I do is for my hip flexors. I like to do the “couch stretch” where you kneel in front of a wall or couch and put your back foot up on the couch or against the wall.

hip-stretches-couch-stretch

If you really want to change the length of a muscle, you need to hold it for 3-5 minutes. (According to “Anatomy for Runners” by Jay Dicharry, one my favorite running books!).

Other than that, I also do some dynamic stretches and mobility after my run. The myrtl routine is a quick workout for the hips that also focuses on mobility.

6. Should you stretch several times a day if something feels really tight the day after a run? Is there such a thing as over stretching? 

I do think there is such a thing as overstretching! However, I don’t think it’s due to stretching too often, but rather too far. Pay attention to your body and don’t stretch so much that it hurts!

Also, I like to focus on mobility, or making sure your joints and muscles are able to move through all their natural ranges of motion.

Try sitting on the floor- you will find yourself in different positions that naturally take your legs and hips into different positions than what they are used to! You may even feel a little stretch in some positions:)

I also really like foam rolling to help loosen up muscles if something feels tight.

7. ITB tightness, calf tightness and shin tightness are all common in beginning runners, what are your top tips for keeping these areas loose and getting rid of the tightness? 

Often times certain areas get tight because another area is weak. So it’s important to make sure you are doing core work and strength training! Focus on the hips, glutes, calves, and a stable core.

[editor’s note: check out this guide for stretches that help with ITB]

For calf and shin problems eccentric calf raises can be helpful.

Thanks so much to Lisa for sharing her insights with us today! I’ve been reading her blog since I was a beginning runner and have always found it super helpful – definitely check it out if you haven’t already! 

If you want to learn about my journey towards becoming a runner you can check out my story and also please subscribe to my blog (bloglovin | feedly) so we can stay in touch!

Do you have any questions for Lisa? If so please comment below or tweet her @milebymilerun!

What are your favorite pre and post run stretches? 

What part of the body do you focus on the most when it comes to stretching? (I focus on my hips which are almost always tight!)

7 comments

  1. Lisa @ Mile by Mile

    Thanks so much for asking me to contribute! Have a great weekend!!
    Lisa @ Mile by Mile recently posted…5 Things I’m Focusing on During the Winter MonthsMy Profile

  2. Schlub

    So cool, glad you two hooked up for this interview. I agree with the dynamic stretches. I feel they closely resemble the running motion which is better for your body. I will do static stretches AFTER my runs throughout the day when my hamstrings and calves are tight. Great post today, a ton of great info, awesome job ladies
    Schlub recently posted…Quick Recovery Update and Crazy ThoughtsMy Profile

  3. Susan

    Great post…thank you both! I was told by my PTs to quit so much static stretching–especially my hamstrings. Now I do dynamic stretching & yoga (I focus on my calves in downward dog and hip flexors in lunge but don’t forward fold so I can protect my hammies!). I like how Lisa kept saying “find what works for you”. So often people think there is a one size that fits all and it’s just not the case. Finding what works for YOUR body is key. Great job, ladies!!

  4. Susie

    I always forget to stretch!

    What’s a great way to work on Hip Flexibility? I’m always so tight in my hips from standing around all day (I’m a teacher).
    Susie recently posted…Workout Wednesday – Split Jerk!My Profile

  5. Lisa @ TechChick Adventures

    Great post!! (Go Lisa power!!, haha , that’s like “girl power”) I’ve never done that stretch Lisa mentioned after a run. It looks very legit and I’m going to give it a try! I find that surprising about holding for 3 to 5 mins to change the length of the muscle. That’s a long time! Funny thing is, before I went to PT last year, I just did stretches for 10 seconds and thought a 30 second hold was a long time! 🙂
    I do stretch now after every run, and have been foam rolling almost every day. The only area I roll is my glutes/hamstrings. That’s the only body parts that I have learned to tolerate, and enjoy the pain of rolling. The other areas are still just torture to me!
    Lisa @ TechChick Adventures recently posted…Some pretty awesome apps on my iPhoneMy Profile

  6. Nathaly Abrahan

    I feel like stretching before my runs is not good for me because my muscles are cold. I like to walk an jog before running to warm up. After my run, I will stretch focusing on my hamstrings, tights and calves.
    Nathaly Abrahan recently posted…Friday Favorites.My Profile

  7. Megan @ Meg Go Run

    I freaking love couch stretch! I don’t see many people do it but it was the best stretch I learned.
    Megan @ Meg Go Run recently posted…Let’s talk about poop!My Profile

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