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How Long After Running Should You Stretch (And Why)?

Exact Answer: 5 – 10 Minutes

Everyone is aware of the numerous benefits one can experience through physical activities when done regularly. Stretching and running are some examples of physical activities that can help individuals to maintain their fitness and lead a healthy lifestyle.

Stretching is a form of physical activity wherein specific tendons or muscles are deliberately stretched to improve their agility and flexibility. Stretching is said to be beneficial for joints as they help with lubrication and improves one’s performance in various day-to-day activities.

Running is one of the most common forms of exercise that offers a wide range of benefits to the human body. It can help in significantly improving mental as well as physical health. It is a complex and coordinated activity that engages and involves the entire body.

How Long After Running Should You Stretch?

As both stretching and running are beneficial for the body in a multitude of ways, one can also perform both simultaneously to enhance the health effects of both these exercises. Stretching after running is considered extremely good as it can help the body in multiple ways.

While running, the entire human body is involved in the activity and hence all the muscles get warmed up in the process of running. As these warmed-up muscles are more pliable and agile, if one stretches after having a run, chances are if stretched properly, the flexibility of the person could ameliorate even more.

Stretching helps in relieving the tension between the muscles by helping them move freely which allows the joins to move through a range of motions. Thus, when stretching is performed a few minutes after running, the process of stretching becomes extremely smooth and one can perform all the stretches with comparatively less effort.

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However, it is necessary to have a 5 to 10 minutes cooldown after running to begin stretching. It is necessary to bring down one’s heart rate to the normal level before starting to stretch. Thus, after the running session, cool the body down by walking 5 to 10 minutes and then start with the stretching routine to experience the benefits of both.

Stretches To Perform After RunningDuration For Holding Each Stretch
Hip flexor stretch15 seconds
Thigh stretch20 seconds
Hamstring stretch15 seconds
Calf stretch 30 seconds
Lower back stretch15 – 20 seconds

Why Does It Take This Long After Running To Stretch?

After running stretching can help one loosen the muscles and reduce the uncomfortable tightness that some people might feel after running. Stretching also allows people to feel better after running so that they continue the same routine the following day too.

After one is done with their running sessions, the muscles will be stressed and possibly over-worked. This could result in muscles getting stiff which would affect the flexibility of the muscles. However, stretching after running would ensure that the soreness of the muscles after running is reduced.

Post-running stretching also helps in restoring and maintaining the range of motion of the muscles. It is known for improving one’s athletic performance which could prove beneficial for runners in their next run. Stretching also assists in drastically reducing the risk of injury after a prolonged period of intense running.

Thus, not only does stretching help one cool down after long and tiring running sessions but also provides one with the benefits of enhanced flexibility. Stretching is best done after exercises like running as the muscles are warm and elastic and thus it is easier to perform all the stretches properly with less effort.

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Conclusion

It is widely advised to stretch after every run as it helps the muscles to cool and release the tension after rigorous activity like running. Immediately after the run, the muscles are warm, and hence stretches can be performed far more easily and effortlessly.

One should perform the stretches after 5 to 10 minutes when the heart rate is back to normal after running. While stretching one can focus on their breathing pattern and hold each stretch for 15 to 20 seconds or as per one’s convenience. Generally, stretching after running should not cause any type of pain. However, if one finds it painful, it is advisable to stop stretching immediately to prevent any further injury.

References

  1. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/15438627.2016.1258640
  2. https://journals.lww.com/nsca-jscr/Fulltext/2011/08000/The_Effects_of_Static_Stretching_on_Running.14.aspx
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