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Photo #1:Lunge stretch: Start with feet together standing upright. Take a giant step forward and stop, keeping your rear toes still stuck to the ground. Drop your hips low and try to keep your back leg straight. Hold for 30 seconds on each side. By the way, this is the proper way to do a "walking lunge" as well. So many times I observe people lunging but not extending the hips forward or trying to straighten the back leg but instead improperly dropping the knee to about 90 degrees on their back leg (the pushoff leg). Proper body position will save your knees, work your glutes instead of your quads and lengthen your stride since proper walking lunge form is a great "active stretch" for your entire hip girdle area.
  Since runners extend fully through the ankle, knee and hip in the pushoff phase of the stride, you want to mimic this movement in the lunge itself. Remember that the purpose to all of the functional exercises that I recommend for running is to simulate running, strengthen the actual muscles used to run and improve mobility of all of your joints. If you can do this, you will substantially change yourself into not just a runner, but an ATHLETE!

Photo #2 is a quad stretch. Continuing the theme of this website, every stretch has a functional purpose with respect to the runner's stride. Once the runner is moving at maximal speed, the heel return on each step is close to the glute muscle, pulling the leg into a tight lever for quick follow through. Your body must learn to simulate this movement. Notice the knee on the ground is BEHIND the hip, just like it would be when you run fast. But if you look at a group of people randomly doing this stretch, the majority will be standing up pulling their heel to their rear except their knee is not behind their hip. So that does not simulate running and it is stretching the wrong muscle group to achieve proper running flexibility.

Photo #3 is a controlled hamstring stretch for beginners. Reach across your body to the opposite ankle. Positioning your legs as in the photo will also allow a deeper movement down with the shoulders to stretch a longer portion of the muscle. Never bounce. To begin this stretch, breathe in. Hold it. Then exhale as you drop your shoulders and reach forward. Do it slow and controlled a few times on each leg. More advanced exercises will be showing up on this site soon for hamstrings that hurdlers and jumpers should be doing.

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