Stretches from Molly Gries PT, DPT
February 8, 2017 | by Molly Gries PT, DPT


This post is part of a special series on “How a PT Trains for a Marathon.” Molly Gries PT, DPT, is a physical therapist and marathoner who will run the 2017 Boston Marathon in April. Molly outlines the benefits of dynamic and static stretches as part of a strategic marathon training plan.

Stretching can add additional time to your workout but can prevent overuse injuries and maximize your run. The key to effective stretching? Integrate dynamic and static stretches.

Before a run, focus on dynamic or active stretches to prevent muscle tearing.

After a run, choose static stretches to help elongate the muscle tissues.


Watch Molly demonstrate dynamic and static stretches for pre and post runs.


What are three dynamic stretches to try before running?

Dynamic stretches bring oxygen to your muscles, increasing blood flow and reducing stiffness.

  1. Marching or high knees: Run with your knees lifted upward.
  2. Rotating hips inward: Rotate your hips as you run forward. You don’t have to run fast to get benefit in this stretch.
  3. Butt kicks: Run forward with your legs and feet kicking up toward your backside. You don’t have to get your leg all the way back to get a good stretch.

What are three static stretches to try after running?

Try these static stretches within the first 10 to 15 minutes while your muscles are still warm and not cooled down. You can even do these while making your post-run coffee.

  1. Hamstring. Keep your back straight as you lean forward from your hips toward your outstretched leg (the opposite leg will be bent). Hold 30-45 seconds.
  2. Calf. Lean forward. Keep heels on ground with one leg back and one leg forward and bent. For additional support, try using a wall.
  3. Quad. Make sure that your hip is straight and not bent as you hold your quad parallel to your backside.

Dynamic vs. Static stretches

Dynamic: a stretch that is done during movement. In a dynamic stretch, you don’t hold the position for a long period of time. It’s an active part of your workout.

Static: a stretch that you hold for a longer period of time. It’s a static part of your workout.

What about foam rolling -- can it help?

Rolling out muscles can decrease the lactic acid that accumulates during exercise. You’ll see the greatest benefit in the areas that are harder to stretch. If you find foam rolling beneficial, try rolling 3 to 5 times each day on the muscle groups affected.

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