How One Essential Stretch Can Improve Your Running

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The “Couch Stretch” can reduce pains from your feet to your back, plus improve performance.

Known as the “Couch Stretch,” or, the “Death Stretch” (you’ll know why when you try it), this one stretch can improve your running on many levels.

Made famous by Kelly Starrett, CrossFit trainer and author of Becoming a Supple Leopard, the stretch is often recommended by physical therapists to help mitigate patellofemoral syndrome, or what’s commonly known as “runner’s knee.” It addresses tight muscles—hip flexors, quadriceps, and the tensor fascie latae (TFL)—that can pull a knee out of alignment and cause swelling and irritation.

But the Couch Stretch can also help ward off other common running injuries, like calf strains, iliotibial band syndrome, and low back pain. “The anterior [front] hip can be a silent killer,” says Boulder, Colorado-based physical…

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