The mental euphoria you feel at the end of a run might be out-of-this-world amazing, but even a runner's high isn't enough to mask the fact that running can make your muscles feel pretty bad. Running puts a lot of strain on all the muscles in your legs and feet, and when you do that over and over again for sustained periods of time on the pavement or on a treadmill, you have to stretch to undo some of the damage.
But what should you stretch? "The main muscles and muscle groups worked when you run are the quads, hamstrings, calves, hip flexors, and glutes," says Rachel Mariotti, a Tier III+ personal trainer and Precision Running Coach at Equinox. Your running routine should ideally be flanked by two stretch sessions: dynamic or moving stretches pre-run, and static or holding stretches afterwards, she says. In a perfect world, you'd also add some strength training and yoga into your workout routine to vary things up, but that's not always doable, so stretching it is. "The impact of running is very high, so strong muscular support is needed for your joints," Mariotti says.
Here are some stretches you can do to help your muscles recover post-run — whether that means a trot around the cul de sac or a few miles on the treadmill. We can't guarantee they'll make you actually like running, but they will make you feel a little better.