Runners Guide to Stretching
Devised by Jane Wake
This is a guide to stretching prepared by Jane Wake, a top fitness professional. Jane works with
ActionAid to enhance your running experience however we cannot be held responsible for any injuries
you may have. Please consult your doctor if you have any concerns at all.
As adults we can lose up to 30% of our flexibility by the age of 70 if we don’t work on our mobility.
Stretching is most effective when the body is very warm but relaxed.
Stretching can… enhance performance, prevent injury, increase mobility, aid in injury rehabilitation
and simply make you feel great!
Static stretching in warm ups – There is little scientific evidence to support the need for held
stretching in a warm up however for the runner who has specific tight or injured areas, anecdotal
evidence would indicate otherwise.
General rules for warming up
Start a run at half pace or at a walk and build up to your natural pace over at least 8 minutes.
The longer the run and the colder it is, the longer and more gradually you should warm up.
If you have particular tight areas, such as a chronic injury where scar tissue has made an area
very tight, you can stop and stretch after a minimum of 8 minutes, just focusing on the tight
area/s. However, if you can try to keep moving by doing a range of movement exercises
rather than held stretches. This will increase mobility whilst keeping the body warm, e.g. very
slow, heel to toe runs forwards and toe to heel runs backwards, knee lifts, knee circles, leg
curl backs and hip extension lunges (extending your leg behind you), side bends and waist
Cool down stretches
Do each of the following after your run, spending 20 seconds on each stretch. If you are short on time
focus on calf, hip rotators (glutes), quadriceps(front thigh), hamstrings (back thigh), I.T band (side of
leg) and chest.
2 – 3 times a week, when your body temperature is very warm, stretch for at least ½ hour, going
through each stretch at least 2 – 3 times with extra attention to particularly tight areas. This is
particularly important for longer distance runners.
Try to do these stretching sessions at least 4 hours away from any vigorous activity when your
muscles are more relaxed and receptive to stretching.
Contract your abdominals and keep your spine still as you stretch (unless doing a back
rotation or back flexion stretch). You should be aiming to keep good posture in every stretch.
Hold each stretch for at least 60 seconds.
N.B. You do not have to do the stretches entitled ‘variations.’ These are alternatives in case you find
the others difficult or impractical to do.
Upper calf stretch
Lower calf stretch
Variations. (also see hamstring
stretch with towel)
Hamstring Stretches (back of thigh)
Outer Thigh and IT Band Stretches
Front Thigh and Hip Flexor Stretches
(Inner chest muscle)
(Outer chest muscle)
ActionAid is a registered charity number 274467. Jane Wake is a top fitness professional and put together this
guide in 2009.