Best Morning Stretches for Runners

Best Morning Stretches for Runners

Stretching right after waking up is great for everyone, but it’s especially important for runners. Your body will generally tighten up when you sleep, while your muscles get shortened. You’ll need to slowly loosen up your muscles for your daily activities, not to mention your run.

The Stretches

Do the following stretches smoothly and slowly. Maintain the deepest part of the stretch (that part when you really feel that stretch) for about 5 seconds. Otherwise, the motions should be gradual and constant.

Perform at least 2 sets of each stretch, with 8 to 10 reps per set. You should change directions with each set.

Neck Circles

This is a stretch that relaxes your neck area, to get it ready for your run and for the day ahead. Your neck gets an improved range of motion, which leads to better posture when you’re running. Remember, you want to run tall, which means you shouldn’t have your head down and looking straight at the ground when you run. Neck pain (which this stretch can prevent) can cause your shoulders to round forward, and that may prevent you from your proper running posture.

To neck circles, stand with your feet a shoulder-width apart, while you set your hands on your hips. Carefully roll your neck to the right and back, until you’re looking up. Then roll your neck to the left and down, so you’re looking at the floor. Then do the same but on the opposite side (left and back, and then right and down).

Shoulder Circles

Shoulder circles help you to keep your proper posture in mind, so you’re bringing your shoulders down and back. This posture reduces the tension in the trapezius muscles, which can lead to a stiff neck and stiff arms.

Stand with your feet a shoulder-width apart, while your arms hang loosely at your sides. Shrug your shoulders up towards your ears, and then lower them back down slowly.

Forward Folds

This stretch will loosen your arms and hamstrings, stretch your upper back, and even boost the mobility of your spine.

Again, stand with your feet a shoulder-width apart, while your arms hang loosely at your sides. Loosen your knees and fold forward. Let your head fall toward the ground, while you bend your arms to grasp the opposite elbow. Pause a bit at the bottom, and then carefully return to your standing position.

Hip Circles

You may not realize just how much work your hip flexors are doing each day. These bear most of the burden when you’re running, and also while you’re just sitting in your office chair all day.

With this stretch, you loosen up your hip flexors and hamstrings, even as you stimulate your core. This will increase the range of motion for your hips.

Stand with your feet a shoulder-width apart, while you set your hands on your hips. You’ll be doing a movement that resembles a hula-hoop dance, but in slow-motion. Shift your hips to your right, then slowly push them back, then to the left, and finally back to the front. You’ll do this in a complete circular motion, and then you repeat the same thing but in the opposite direction.

Standing Overhead Reaches

It’s always helpful when you start the morning by focusing on your posture. With this stretch, you minimize neck soreness, shoulder tension, and stiff arms while you run.

Stand with your feet a shoulder-width apart, while your arms hang loosely at your sides. Lift your arms high towards the ceiling, ending with your hands clasped and your palms facing upward. Arch your back and look skyward as well, even as you squeeze your glutes. Then return to the starting position, and that’s 1 rep.


Squats help with whole-body awareness as they stimulate your glutes. Going into a full squat really helps with mobility, and that’s crucial for runners.

This time, stand with your feet slightly wider than hip-width, while your toes are pointed slightly out. Clasp your hands together at your chest level so you can keep your balance.

Now send your hips back as you bend your knees, so you can lower yourself down to the floor as low as possible. Keep your chest lifted, and get your thighs low enough that they’re at least parallel to the floor. Then press down through your heels to get back to your original position. 

Final Words

Don’t forget to do these stretches each morning, whether you’re running that day, going to the Retro Fitness gym nearby, or just doing your work and chores all day. If you don’t, you may end up with ineffective workouts, great discomfort, or even muscle injury!

Overhead Reach

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