As well as (slightly) reducing soreness, stretching increases your range of motion and also helps muscles recover more quickly after a workout.
A quick poll in the office found that most of the runners didn't cross train their running with some form of stretching like yoga. Adding just a few minutes on to the end of your workout to stretch, when muscles are warm and joints are fully lubricated, will help. We did these five basic standing stretches (no equipment necessary) on our Wednesday run with Claire Burton, Reebok trainer.
Hold each stretch for 20-30 seconds on each side.
1. Hamstring (back of thigh)
Stand tall and step one foot a few inches in front of the other. Bend the back knee slightly, and place both hands on the back thigh for balance and support. Lift the toes on the front foot, draw in your abs (pull your belly button to spine), and bend forward from the hips with your tailbone high and shoulders relaxed.
2. Quadriceps (front of thigh)
Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Bend one leg back so your foot is touching your bum, and hold on to your foot. Dont lock the knee of your supporting leg (the one youre standing on). Relax your shoulders and gently tilt your hips forward while keeping the knees together.
3. Piriformis (outside of the glutes)
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Lift one foot off the ground and bend your leg to 90 degrees, aligning the knee and hip (as though you were stepping on to a box). Link your fingers and wrap your hands around your knee. Gently pull the knee towards the opposite shoulder until you feel a stretch in the outside of the buttocks of the leg youre holding.
Stand with legs hip-width apart and step back with a straight leg. Checking that both feet are facing forward, and heels on the ground, bend the front leg. Bend forward from the hips, keeping your back straight. Extend arms in front if there is a tree or wall nearby, press your palms against it to improve the stretch.
5. IT band (outside of the thigh, below the piriformis)
Cross your left leg in front of your right leg. Reach up and over to the left with your right arm, and place your left hand on your hip. Push slightly on your left hip to move them to the right. Repeat by crossing your right left in front of your left.
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