dynamic stretching

Runners Stretch: How to Become a Better Runner in 30 Days Series

runners stretches running coach shelly Minnesota

#24 Runners Stretch




runners stretches running coach shelly Minnesota

The swinging pendulum has made its way from Stretching is Bad to Stretching is Good. I hover at about 20% from center on the Stretching is Good side. Those that don’t stretch before, during, or after running look stiff with shorter strides. Without full range of motion you can not use your body to its fullest potential.

Physical Therapists are going to instruct you to regularly stretch. They get to visit with many runners who are injured and see the effect of not stretching, injury. So why not stretch your muscles and increase mobility instead of getting injured and then hearing from your PT that your muscles are too tight to allow your body to work well.

My Cheat Sheet on Stretching

runners stretches running coach shelly Minnesota

Before a Run - Dynamic (moving) stretches like leg swings, torso twists, arm swings, lunges, and squats.

During a Run - Dynamic (moving) stretches like leg swings, torso twists, arm swings, lunges, and squats.. PLUS, strides (short sprints where you build up the speed and then slow down all within 50 meters, striving for good form and quick turnover)

After a Run - Static (holding stretches for 30 seconds) stretches like toe touches, figure four, pigeon, cross body shoulder stretch, etc. In Addition Active Release stretching ( movement stretch with a pause), massage through foam rolling, Yoga, and Pilates.


  • NO Static stretching right before a race or speed workout. Your muscles act like springs and if you stretch the spring out, they won’t get their tension back in time to run well. Instead use dynamic stretching before racing or speed workouts.

  • NO Stretch when you have a pulled muscle. A damaged muscle doesn’t need damaged more. Rest injuries!

  • NO Aggressive stretching can damage a tendon or muscle (yep, can happen easier than you think)


runners stretches running coach shelly Minnesota
runners stretches running coach shelly Minnesota


In order to run happy, your body needs its full range of motion, therefore stretch throughout the day.

runners stretches running coach shelly Minnesota

This 30-day series is a quest for me as a writer, coach, and runner. I promise to write about running for 30 days in a row. In doing so I intend to gain in knowledge and expression of running and daily life. My hope is that we all grow together.

Swing Them


Why are they swinging their legs?


Pass by your local high schooler running team as they prepare for their run and most likely you will see them swinging their legs forwards and backwards. It is a form of dynamic stretching, which gently lengthens the muscle and prepares the body for the running movement.  You would be well advised to add this exercise to your pre-running routine.

It is simple. Find a post or wall to help maintain your balance while you swing one of your legs forwards and backwards. Put a slight pause at the top of each side of the swing, letting the body feel the stretch and release.

Besides the value of your muscles becoming aware of an upcoming activity, there is the add ability to move the limbs and torso in the manner they soon will be doing 180 times per minute.

For example, after the hours of sitting each day, your hip flexors are tight causing your hip to have reduced extension and flexion. Without a full extension, you revert to running from your knees instead of your hips. Resulting in using your hamstrings as your power in your running stride instead of your stronger and better-equipped glute muscles. If you take an extra minute to get your hips to open up and flex and extend you will be more likely to use the glute muscles while running

With the simple movements of dynamic stretching, you can improve the first 10 minutes of your run, making those first steps come easier.

Don't worry about looking silly. You won’t look silly doing the same exercises that competitive athletes perform, you will look all the more aware of the needs of your body.

Throw out the excuse that swinging the legs is for the young or fast runners. Your body is in just as much of need for proper warm up and training as those that were gifted with a bit more talent and years of practice. YOU ARE JUST AS VALUABLE.

So kick those legs up, twist your torso, and swing your arms with a smile, because you get to run today.


One minute of dynamic stretching before pushing the start button on your watch will get your run started on the right foot! Enjoy!