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Improve Flexibility (and Cool Off) by Stretching in the Pool

After a long run on a hot day, few things feel better than diving into a pool. But why stop at cooling off? By taking your stretching routine underwater, you'll be able to move your joints and limbs through a wider range of motion—and with greater control—compared to stretching on land, says Scott Riewald, Ph.D., a biomechanics expert who works with Olympic athletes. "It's easier to reach and hold the point of optimal stretch, with less strain," he says. Do this routine in the pool after a run. Hold each stretch for 20 to 30 seconds, repeating twice on both legs.

Hip Flexors


Start in a lunge position with the left leg on a low step. Bend the right knee and shift your body weight forward so your hips drop down. You'll feel this in the front of the left hip.

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Hamstrings


In waist-deep water, place one foot, heel down, on a low step. Looking straight ahead, flex at the hips to bring the torso forward until you feel a stretch in the back of the thigh.

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Calves


Stand in chest-deep water and hold the wall. Step back with the right leg and press the heel down. Hold for 20 seconds, then bend the right knee slightly for a deeper stretch.

Quadriceps and Hip Flexors


Stand on your left leg. Grasp the right foot behind you. For a deeper stretch, press the hips forward and allow the right knee to move back slightly.

Hip and Lower Back


Stand on your left leg in chest-deep water. Grab your right knee with both arms and pull it tightly to the chest while maintaining good posture.

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Position yourself so your left side is close to a wall. Cross the left foot in front of the right. Lean to the left with your torso while pushing the right hip away from the wall.

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