May 2015 02

Stretching workshop for runners

By: Dave Wheeler

On Monday 20th April 2015, 22 runners attended a free stretching workshop at Walsworth Community Centre, Hitchin.

A good cross-section of runners from individual runners to members of Hitchin Running Club, North Herts Road Runners and the Biggleswade Running Club all came to learn more about how to reduce injury, stay flexible and reduce post-exercise muscle soreness.

Participants picked what muscles to stretch and we tried out various stretches on the whole range of typical problem areas for runners:

  • Calves
  • Hamstrings
  • Quads
  • ITB
  • Adductors
  • Glutes

The venue worked really well with enough room for everyone to try out the stretches. One of the biggest learning points for most people was how tiny changes to a stretch could make a world of difference to the quality of the stretch.

It was good to see the differences in people too - some people had tight quads at the top near the hip, and others had tight quads down at the tendon near the knee (and some didn't have tight quads but had tight hamstrings instead). Learning not to copy what others were doing but to stretch the bit that needs stretching on you was a really important point.

Whilst there was a little bit of theory about the stretch reflex, most of the session was interactive with everyone trying out the different variations on stretches.

Here are the final "takeaways" from the session:


Stretch on warm muscles.

Think what happens if you try to stretch cold Blu-Tack… it rips. Your muscles are the same. If you stretch cold muscle you're in danger of tearing them.

You’re unique.

There's no point copying other peoples' stretching routine - what's tight on them won't necessarily be tight on you.

Stretch what hurts.

You know what hurts the day after strenuous exercise. Those are the muscles that you should stretch.

Hold your stretch.

Remember the stretch reflex (the natural contraction of muscles AGAINST the stretch). So every stretch should be held for at least 20 seconds. 1 minute is a good amount of time for a decent stretch.

Be precise.

Adjust the stretch slowly, gently and precisely to target the particular area of the muscle that is tight. Big kick-ass stretches are useless if they’re not targeting the right muscle fibres. Be precise, stretch gently.


If you missed the stretching workshop, don't worry, I'll be doing a free repeat session later in the year. Keep your eye on my facebook page for details.