3:53 PM I often ask for too much when it comes to my body. There are things which I don’t care about, or I am too lazy to take myself some time. I was never a friend of stretching. It’s not that I hate it, I just thought it’s a waste of time…if I want to run, I lace up and start running. Why do I need to stretch my hips, legs, and core?
As soon as I’m done with stretching, I feel like I’m already getting tired so I won’t run then, haha. This “method” of mine was okay for a certain amount of time. When I started racing, I took things more seriously and I stretched intense before each race. Only the cool-down stretch was postponed to never, since I was too tired. Then I hurt myself. My shin was killing me and I thought about my running routine...

Was I doing something wrong? I went to see my doctor who gave me a smooth massage and checked my flexibility. He emphasized that my legs are doing a great job and that I’m in a good condition. Sounds good – but how did my shin issue happen then? Until today, no doctor could answer my w-questions… To be honest, I’m scared to hurt myself again. The worst feeling is to stop for an uncertain moment and miss all the energy and vibes running brings along.
I wanted to make sure that during my recovery time, I will figure out how to run in the best way possible. This means: pre-run, after-run and also during the run. Maybe it’s my “stretching”? Maybe I don’t take enough time to recover and rest? Too much pressure? Wrong posture and technique?
Je ne sais pas.

While I started healing my body with natural things such as ginger oil, cinnamon and plenty of foam rolling, I also began putting together a list of stretches which will definitely help me before I start a fresh run. This stretching here doesn’t take forever and it warms up all the important muscle groups which are still cold when you wake up in the morning.

Give your body the time it needs to warm up and be ready to train with you.

So far, these stretches are helping me and I feel some benefits while I run. Especially the exercises which help opening my hips, make me feel like I am more flexible and I got more room to move. Here are my favorite stretches, lovebirds. Feel free to share your favorite stretches or your experiences with pre and after running routines. I am curious to hear from you and your training stories! 

1. RUN IN PLACE Move the legs alternately as in running, but remain in the same place, not going forward or backward.

2. STANDING FORWARD BEND Bend forward from the hip joints. Here, the emphasis is on lengthening the front torso! Keep your knees straight and bring your palms or finger tips slightly in front or beside of your feet. Press your heels into the floor and lift the sitting bones towards the ceiling. Let your head hang from the root of your neck and take a deep breathe: in and out.

3. QUAD STRETCH Stand on your left foot and grab your right shin by bending your leg behind you. Tuck your pelvis in, pull your shin toward your glutes, making sure your knee is pointing to the ground. Try not to pull the knee backward or sideways. Hold for a couple of seconds and then switch sides. Remember, the more you push your hips to the front, the more you feel the stretch in your thighs.
4. INNER THIGH STRETCH Sit on the floor with both legs straight out in front of you. Keep your legs in front, and sit up straight to elongate your spine. Bring the soles of your feet together. Your knees should bend and point outward. Bring your heels as close to your body as you can. Hold on to your ankles and pull your feet towards your pelvis. Get as close as possible, but don't force the position beyond your comfort.

5. CALF STRETCH Stand about three feet from a wall and put your right foot behind you ensuring your toes are facing forward. Keep your heel on the ground and lean forward with your right knee straight. Rotating the toes in and out slightly will target the medial and lateral parts of this muscle separately.

6. SHOULDER STRETCH Stand tall and bring your right arm across your upper body, holding it with your left arm just below or above the elbow. Hold the stretch and then release. Repeat the stretch with the left arm

7. STANDING MOUNTAIN CLIMBERS Stand straight with your feet shoulder-width apart and arms by your side. Bring your right knee up to waist level and extend your left arm over your head. Return to the starting position and repeat with the opposite side.

8. HIP FLEXOR STRETCH Knee with one knee on the floor and the other foot in front with the knee bent. Push your hips forward and keep the back upright. Hold for a couple of seconds.

9. ARM SWINGS Stand with the feet shoulder-width apart. Hold the arms straight out to the sides and parallel to the ground. Swing the arms in front of and behind the body in a wide criss-crossing, or scissoring, motion. With every swing, alternate the top arm.

10. CURTSY LUNGE Start from standing, and step your left leg behind you and to the right so your thighs cross, bending both knees as if you were curtsying. Make sure your front knee is aligned with your front ankle. Return to standing, and switch sides to complete one rep

11. FINGERTIP TO TOE JACKS Stand straight with your feet shoulder-width apart and arms by your side. Bend your right leg and left your foot as high as you can – slightly rotate the torso to the right. Try touching your foot with your left hand. Repeat on the other side.

12. GLUTE STRETCH Start with a lying position on the floor, keeping your feet on the floor, bending your knees. Lift one leg and put its ankle behind the thigh of the other leg while grabbing the back of the thigh of the floor leg with your hands. Now pull that leg towards your chest and you will feel the stretch, holding it for a couple of seconds.

Those stretches are really not that hard! Make sure to test some of them before you start your next run! Take care of your body and try to prevent injuries whenever you can ~ 
You will perform so much better when you start to focus on a pre run and after run stretch ritual - test it for yourself.