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Stretching: Is it really important?

“What sort of stretches or recovery do I need to be doing?” – Jessie O

Answer from Coach Kareen Lawson

Stretching is an important part of any fitness routine and it is usually the first thing we skip when we are pressed for time. It is better to shorten your run a bit to make sure you have time to do at least a few basic stretches. I recommend that you do each of these stretches two times and hold them for 30-60 seconds.

  1. Glutes Stretch: Reach your right arm behind you and plant your palm on the floor. Place your left hand on your right knee, and gently pull your knee to the left until you feel the stretch in your glutes. Repeat on the other side.
  2. Lunging Hip flexors stretch: Kneel on your left knee and place your right fool goat on the floor in front of you with your knee bent. Lean forward, stretching your left hip toward the floor while squeezing your butt. Repeat on the other side
  3. Groin Stretch: Sit on the floor placing bottoms of feet together and knees out. Gently use elbows to push knees towards the floor
  4. Iliotibial Band Stretch: Place one foot around the other, keeping both feet flat on the ground. Keep both legs straight and lean your hips towards the side of your rearmost foot (so, if your right foot is rearmost, lean your hips to the right). You should feel the stretch down the outside of your leg and around your hip – if you are very stiff, it may take a few times before you feel anything. Repeat on the other side.
  5. Standing quadricep stretch: Bend one leg behind you at the knee. Grab the ankle with the opposite hand and gently pull towards but. You can place a hand on a wall for balance if needed. Repeat on the other side.
  6. Simple Hamstring Stretch: Sit with legs stretched out in front of you. Lean forward at the waist keeping legs straight. To get a little more out of this stretch, point your toes towards your knees.
  7. Seated Calf Stretch: Sit on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you. Lean forward and grave the arches of your feet. If you cannot grab the arches of your feet, use a stretching rope and loop it around the arches of both feet. Pull your toes toward your body until you feel a stretch in your calves. This also helps stretch your feet.

Another aspect of running recovery that is often overlooked is mobility. I highly recommend that all runners add the Myrtl Routine to their repertoire two to three times a week, with at least one of these times being directly after you run. The Myrtl Routine helps with hip and glute strength and mobility. I use this routine with all my runners. To see a video of the Myrtl Routine go here.

Click on the image to watch Myrtl Video


About Coach Kareen

Kareen is a running coach from Northern Virginia. She refers to herself as an AOR (Adult Onset Runner). Kareen started running for weight loss in her mid-thirties, but after her youngest child left for college she felt like she needed to find some new ways to make friends. This decision led her to a local running group that inspired her to start racing and eventually earn her RRCA coaching certification in February of 2014. She coaches children from 1st through 8th grade with the RunFit Kidz program and adult training groups through Potomac River Running. Since running her first race on January 1, 2012, she has run almost 150 races, including 9 marathons. Currently, she is training for marathons 10 and 11 as well as contemplating her first ultra! You can find kareen on Instagram @coachkareen or at