Stretch Your Way to Better Running Performance


The famous Boston Marathon is coming up on April 15. That’s got us thinking about our many patients here at Affiliated Foot & Ankle Center who run. We love the sport of running and our board-certified podiatrists have years of experience - some of us as runners ourselves - in treating runners’ feet.

If you’re a runner, you know that the sport is exceptionally hard on your lower limbs. Runners experience foot problems as par for the course: blisters, blackened toenails, stress fractures, sprained ankles, shin splints, and overuse injuries such as tendinitis and heel pain are some of the most common. And while accidents can happen, you can help prevent injuries with this one piece of advice:

Incorporate regular stretching into your exercise routine.

Why stretch?

Regular stretching relieves sore muscles, eliminates cramps, improves joint flexibility, increases range of motion, helps correct muscle imbalances, and can improve your endurance and performance as a runner.

How should you stretch?

Stretch gently and never to the point of pain. Stretch both left and right lower limbs. Notice if one side is tighter than the other and work on the tighter side just a little bit more, as needed.

Target specific muscles in your feet and toes by performing these exercises:

  • Roll the bottom of your foot over a golf ball or frozen water bottle

  • Pick up marbles with your toes and drop them into a bowl; repeat with other foot

  • Place your feet next to each other and wrap a heavy rubber band around your two big toes; gently pull your big toes away from each other

Here are some exercises you can do to stretch your ankles and lower legs:

  • While seated, extend your leg and point your toes to the ceiling to stretch out your calf

  • To maintain ankle flexibility, extend your leg and rotate your ankle by “writing” the alphabet in the air with your big toe

  • Stretch out your calves by placing your forefoot on a step and gradually lowering the heel

Another great way for runners to stretch their lower limbs and increase their overall flexibility is to practice yoga.

If your runner’s feet are giving you pain, visit Dr. Samantha Boyd, Dr. Hal Ornstein, Dr. Dan Phan, and Dr. Joseph Saka at Affiliated Foot & Ankle Center. We have two podiatry offices in Monmouth County, New Jersey, so choose the office most convenient for you in Howell or Jackson. Call us at (732) 905-1110 or make an appointment online.