Stretching after running serves an important purpose, that is to return the muscles to their original length and possibly lengthen them further. There are two common types of stretches: Maintenance stretches (to return muscles to original length) which should be held for 15-20 seconds. Development stretches (to further lengthen the muscles) which should be held for 10-15 seconds, relaxed and then held again for a further 20-30 seconds. Here are six stretches that I would recommend as a minimum after running. It may surprise you to see upper body stretches included, but we use our arms a lot in running, especially trail running! Hamstring stretch: Straighten one leg out in front of you with the heel on the floor and foot flexed. Put your weight on your other leg and lean forwards, pushing the hip of the outstretched leg backwards to feel a stretch through the hamstring and into the glute (backside). Hold for at least 15 seconds. Repeat on the other side.
Calf stretch: Step back with one foot, pressing the heel to the floor. Move your body weight forwards until you feel a stretch in the lower leg. Hold for at least 15 seconds. Repeat on the other side.
ITB: Take the right leg behind the left and raise the right arm up and over head, leaning to the left slightly. Hold for at least 15 seconds. Repeat on the other side.
Quad stretch: Lift up one foot towards your backside holding it in place with the hand on the same side of the body. Use your other hand to help you balance if need be. Make sure the knees are together and the hips push forwards to increase the stretch. Hold for at least 15 seconds. Repeat on the other side.
Chest stretch: Place your hands in the small of your back and squeeze the elbows towards each other. Push the chest forwards to increase the stretch. Hold for at least 15 seconds. Repeat on the other side.
Shoulder stretch: Straighten one arm and bring it across the chest, holding either above or below the elbow with your free hand. Try to ensure there is a gap between your shoulder and ear. Hold for at least 15 seconds. Repeat on the other side.