Mobility for Runners

 In Running

Running is a great form of exercise for health and well-being, but any runner knows that after a while their hips and legs can tighten a bit. You can start to notice restrictions in hip mobility, and increasing muscle tightness in your quads, hamstrings and calves. Stretching can be a way to relieve this tightness – both in the short and long-term.

Stretching can be separated into three general categories – static, dynamic and pre-contraction.

1. Static stretching involves holding a joint in an end range position to a point of stretching sensation in the muscles involved for a set period of time (commonly 30-90 seconds)

2. Dynamic stretching involves moving a joint actively through its full range of motion multiple times

3. Finally pre-contraction stretching involves a contraction of the muscle being stretched or its antagonist before stretching (this will explored further below in the post-run mobility section) 1.

To assist the runner in mobility maintenance and recovery post run – I’ve organised and compiled a few pre and post run mobility exercises/stretches to implement into your training schedule:

Pre-Run Mobility

Traditionally static stretching is used when attempting to increase range of motion in a joint 1. However static stretching has shown to decrease muscle strength and performance in running 1. Therefore to improve mobility prior to a running session – the following dynamic stretching/mobility exercises are recommended:

Hip Controlled Articular Rotations 

Hip Rotations

Knee Controlled Articular Rotations

Post-Run Mobility

I’ve compiled a group of static and pre-contractive based stretching positions aimed to relieve muscular tension after a running session:

Couch Stretch    

  1. Placing your rear foot onto a wall behind you with your knee resting on a towel (ensuring the knee is comfortable – stop this stretch at any point if you experience knee pain)
  2. The first picture on the left above shows the initial stretch position – focused more on the quadriceps – tuck the pelvis under and drawing your buttocks back to the wall
  3. The second picture above to the right shows the subsequent stretch position that focuses more on the psoas muscle
  4. hold for 30-60 seconds each side

90/90 position Gluteal Kinetic Stretch

  1. Finding a comfortable 90/90 position as pictured above – sitting underneath a pillow or folded towel if the pelvis rocks to one side and placing a cushion or towel underneath the front knee if it does not touch the ground
  2. Inhale to lift the belly high and tilt the pelvis forward – poking your tailbone out behind you (see top left picture)
  3. Exhale – bring your belly and chest over the right thigh – using your fingertips to support your weight as little as you can, so thast the gluteal muscle has to actively lengthen holding your body weight (hence the term kinetic stretching)
  4. Repeat 5-10x – holding for 5-10 seconds on the last repetition

90/90 Internal Rotation Kinetic Stretch

  1. In the 90/90 position (using pillows/towels under the buttocks as required) firmly press your hands of either knee or the knee of the rear leg – placing force comfortably down through the inside of the rear knee to the floor (use a pillow or blanket underneath if needed)
  2. With exhale turn through the belly and chest toward the rear leg – placing more force down through the rear knee and ankle until you can no longer turn and internally rotate the rear hip any more
  3. Repeat 5-10 x with a 5-10 sec hold on the last repetition

Hamstring Stretch + Isometrics

  1. Lying down with one leg against a wall or pole – place the leg in a position that allows for a comfortable stretch of the hamstring muscle. Hold for 30-90 seconds
  2. Slowly begin to press the heel of the lifted leg against the wall – building tension in the muscle slowly until you reach a safe and comfortable maximum. Hold this for 10 seconds
  3. Lift the leg away from the wall – closer towards you and hold for 10 seconds
  4. Edge closer to the wall if the hamstring feels less tight, or stay in the same position and repeat steps 1-3 once or twice

Half Fish Pose

With one knee bent facing forward and the opposite heel on the front or opposite side of the knee – ensure the buttocks are on the floor. Twist through the spine and reach your arm across the lifted knee. Hold for 10-15 breaths either side

Combat Stance Ankle Stretch + Isometrics

Named after the combat stance position in martial arts – this is a great way to stretch the ankle and soleus muscle.

  1. Leaning over the ankle – use your bodyweight (or weight as seen above-right) to find a stretch through the calf muscle bulk and achilles tendon
  2. Slowly build tension into the lengthened calf muscle by pushing the ball of your foot into the floor until you reach a safe, maximal tension – holding that for 10 seconds
  3. Staying deep within the stretch lift the toes up and away from the floor – contracting through the tibialis anterior muscle as much as you can – hold for 10 seconds
  4. Repeat steps 1-3 once or twice

Seated Toe Extension + isometrics

Sitting over flexed toes – if you can handle the stretch for >15 seconds – add in a contraction/stretch of the deeper foot musculature by pressing the toes into the floor for 10 seconds

Try completing this mobility routine 1-3x a week and let us know how you go!

If you have any questions or queries – email me at


Oliver Crossley (APAM)
POGO Physiotherapist

Featured in the Top 50 Physical Therapy Blog


  • Page, Phil. “Current concepts in muscle stretching for exercise and rehabilitation.” International journal of sports physical therapy 7, no. 1 (2012): 109.
Recommended Posts

Leave a Comment