Runners: What stretches/exercises are most important to avoid injury?
August 8, 2014 6:32 AM   Subscribe

I have been recovering from a tibial stress fracture for the past 6 weeks, and would like to minimize the possibility of being out of commission for such a long time again. I've improved my running mechanics (180 bpm cadence helped out a lot), but from what I understand, strong, flexible muscles are important in preventing injury as well. To this end: What exercises/stretches would benefit me the most for keeping good running form? What muscles should I be focusing on?

I've been working primarily on my calf/hip abductor strength, as well as hip flexor flexibility. I've heard that glutes/core are important as well, but there are so many exercises out there and I'm not sure which to focus on. I'd love to have a bread-and-butter routine I could perform for my exercises/stretches so I don't waffle between this exercise and that exercise.

I don't do dynamic stretching, just static stretching after the run. (I do a light warmup jog before I take off, though). Would that be a good idea to start up? Is there anything else I'm missing? Thanks, veteran runners!
posted by CottonCandyCapers to Health & Fitness (5 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
It's going to depend on your body and your running gait, right?

Being in recovery from a repetitive stress knee injury, I've been in physical therapy which for me has been focusing on stretches for hamstrings, achilles, hips, glutes. While these have been good for me, only a subset of those would make sense for you and there are probably some that you should do that I shouldn't.

I recommend that you get a consult with a physical therapist for suggestions.
posted by plinth at 6:39 AM on August 8, 2014

I used these right here from Cool Running, and did not have major injuries when I was running.
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 6:50 AM on August 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

I've been running regularly for over 15 years. What I find helps is consistency. I don't stretch pre run. The stretches I do post run are:

quad stretch
hamstring stretch
calf stretch
achilles stretch
lunges, targeting the hip flexor
glute stretch
IT band stretch

I hold each one for 20 seconds. If I'm feeling particularly indulgent, I'll do two sets.

If I get lazy or I'm in a rush, then I will skip them and then I feel all stiff later and I remind myself that I dislike recovery breaks so I'd better not skip them.

I'll also find that going to a yoga class or Bodyflow weekly for a few weeks makes a huge difference. I've been focusing on compound lifts lately, although I'm starting to conclude that split squats may be more useful for me that regular squats.
posted by TORunner at 6:56 AM on August 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

There isn't much evidence that stretching helps to prevent injury. I would go so far as to say that were it not sort of "historically" recommended, it would not be currently recommended.

For strength, I think core is very important. When I have been particularly strong I have done a lot of single leg balancing and varied movement, and that has helped.
posted by OmieWise at 7:56 AM on August 8, 2014 [2 favorites]

This is going to very tremendously based on your running style and body etc.

For me (181cm, 67kg, lanky son of a gun with no hips to speak of), far and away the most important stretches are hip flexor, itb stretches (it's an ongoing issue with me), calf, and ham string, in that order. Hip flexors and ITB are the only ones I cannot do without.
posted by smoke at 8:43 PM on August 8, 2014

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