9 Essential Post-Run Stretches

Post-run stretches are ideal for increasing flexibility and mobility. While any body part can benefit from stretching after you run, the below stretches mainly target areas that frequently get tight during and after running. Incorporating these stretches as part of your post-run routine helps improve your range of motion, reduces the risk of injuries, and boosts performance and recovery.

Post-Run Stretches

  • Hamstring stretch
  • Quad stretch
  • Calf stretch
  • Low lunge stretch
  • IT band stretch
  • Butterfly stretch
  • Hips and back stretch
  • Arms and ab stretch
  • Triceps stretch

Hamstring Stretch

Hamstring Stretch

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

This hamstring stretch feels great, and it's easier on your back than the bending-over stretch. Here's what to do:

1. ​Lie on your back with your legs extended and your back straight. Make sure your lower back is on the floor and your hips are level.

2. Bend your left knee and keep your left leg extended on the floor.

3. Slowly straighten your right knee, grabbing the back of your leg with both hands.

4. Gently pull your right leg towards you while keeping your hips on the floor. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds. Repeat on your left side.

If straightening your leg is too difficult, you can also do this stretch with a bent knee.


Quad Stretch

Quad Stretch

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

Your quadriceps (front thighs) are powerful muscles that work hard when you're running, so it's important that you stretch them. Here's what to do:

1. Stand straight (don't lean forward), lift the foot of your cramping leg up behind you, and grab your foot with your hand on that side.

2. Pull your heel gently toward your butt, feeling a stretch in your quad.

3. Keep your other leg straight and try to keep your knees as close together as possible.

4. Hold the stretch for 15 to 30 seconds. Release and repeat. Switch legs and repeat steps on the other leg.


Calf Stretch

Calf Stretch

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

Your calf muscles work hard when you're running, so they'll need a good stretch when you're done. Stretching your calves can also help prevent shin splints. Here's what to do:
1. To begin, stand facing up a flight of stairs or exercise step.
2. Position yourself so that the ball of your foot and your toes are on the edge of the step. You can hold a railing or wall for extra support.
3. Drop the heel of one foot toward the ground, while bending the knee of the opposite leg. You should feel the stretch in the calf of the leg dropping the heel.

5. Hold for 30 to 60 seconds, then repeat with the opposite side.


Low Lunge Stretch

Low Lunge Stretch

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

This is a great stretch for your hip flexor muscles, which work hard lifting your legs up during running. Here's what to do:
1. Step into a lunge position.
2. Keep your toes pointed forward and your upper torso straight. Your back leg should be straight back behind you.
3. Press down with your hands and extend the hips forward until you feel a stretch from the front of your hip and the top of your thigh (of your back leg).
4. Hold 30 to 60 seconds, then switch sides.


IT Band Stretch

IT Band Stretch

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

A common area of tightness for many runners is the iliotibial band (ITB), a tendonous and fascial band that starts at the hip and goes down to your knee.

This standing IT band stretch can help reduce your risk of IT band syndrome.

Here's how to do it:

1. While in an upright position, cross your right leg behind your left.

2. Lean slightly forwards and to your left side until you feel a stretch on the outside of your right leg.

3. Raise your right hand over your head and extend it to your left side.

4. Hold for 30 seconds and then repeat with your left leg.


Butterfly Stretch

Butterfly Stretch

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

This groin stretch, known as the butterfly stretch, stretches the inner thighs and groin area.

1. Sit on the ground. Bend your knees and bring the bottom of your feet together, so that your knees are pointed out to the sides.

2. Wrap your hands around your feet and slowly slide your heels toward your body as far as you comfortably can.

3. Lean forward slowly and press your knees down to the ground. You should feel a light stretch in your inner thighs.

4. If the stretch feels too easy, lean forward more as if to touch your nose to the ground. But be careful not to overdo it.

5. Stay in this position for 30 to 60 seconds. Make sure you don't bounce during the stretch.

6. Slowly come back to the starting position and repeat the steps one more time.


Hip and Back Stretch

Hip and Back Stretch

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

This stretch is great for your hips and lower back. Here's what to do:

1. Sit on the ground with your legs straight out in front of you.

2. Lift your right leg and cross it over your left leg, which should stay straight.

3. Pull your right leg to your chest and twist the trunk of your body to look over your right shoulder.

4. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds.

5. Change legs and repeat the sequence.


Arms and Abs Stretch

Arms and Abs Stretch

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

This move is perfect for stretching your arms and obliques, or side abdominals. Here's what to do:

1. Stand with your feet hip length apart.

2. Stretch your arms above your head, dropping your shoulders away from your ears.

3. Grab your opposite wrist, and lean back as far as you can without hurting your back.

4. Straighten up again and lean to the left and then to the right, to stretch your sides.


Triceps Stretch

Triceps Stretch

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

You use your upper body when you're running, so it's important to stretch your arms when you've finished your run. Here's how to stretch your triceps, the muscles on the back of your upper arm:

1. Bring one of your elbows across your body, towards your opposite shoulder.

2. Use your other hand to bring your elbow closer to your shoulder.

3. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds, then switch sides.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Should you stretch immediately after running?

    While you do not have to stretch immediately after running, it's wise to stretch while your body is still warmed up from activity and you are more likely to feel motivated to include it in your routine. Stretching can act as a transitionary period between a physically stressful event and returning to a calm state, helping reduce stress hormones and boost recovery.

  • What's more important: stretching pre or post run?

    Stretching pre or post run are both available options that can help you make a habit of working on your flexibility and mobility. If you choose to stretch before your run, you may wish to stick to an active warm up rather than holding stretches. Holding isometric stretches may lead to overly stretched muscles and tendons which might increase the risk of injury. Stick to dynamic movements that mimic what you'll be doing during your run. Post-run stretching can help you transition to a less stressful state and is a good way of ensuring you get some flexibility work into your routine.

  • Which muscles get tight from running?

    Muscles that can get tight from running include the hamstrings, calves, and quadriceps. Some people also feel tightness in their lower back, especially if they have a weak core. Performing an active warm-up and frequently adding stretching and mobility work to your routine can help.

5 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. American Council on Exercise. 10 reasons why you should be stretching.

  2. U.C. Davis Health. Flexibility.

  3. National Academy of Sports Medicine. It Band Syndrome Exercises: Reduce Risk Factors and Symptoms.

  4. National Academy of Sports Medicine. Sympathetic vs parasympathetic overtraining.

  5. Afonso J, Olivares-Jabalera J, Andrade R. Time to move from mandatory stretching? We need to differentiate “can i? ” from “do i have to? .” Front Physiol. 2021;12:714166. doi:10.3389/fphys.2021.714166

By Christine Luff, ACE-CPT
Christine Many Luff is a personal trainer, fitness nutrition specialist, and Road Runners Club of America Certified Coach.