What Muscles Does Running Work?

Running is a great activity and one of the best ways to improve fitness and general wellbeing.

Many people assume that the only muscles involved with running and similar activities are in the legs, however, it's not quite as simple as that.

Because of the amount that people will run and the methods that they use, lots of different muscles are given a good workout.

What Muscles Does Running Work

This is great, with running hitting a lot of different areas and ensuring that those taking part increase their fitness and their overall wellbeing.

However, what muscles, in particular, are given good attention? Follow our guide to find out all you need to know.

Why Is Running A Good Activity?

Running is a great exercise for many reasons, the most obvious being that it can be done outdoors which means that you don't have to worry about getting sweaty or overheated.

It also allows you to get outside and enjoy some fresh air, instead of spending every day on your sofa. There is no doubt that this is a great way to boost your mood and see the world around you.

This is particularly important if you live somewhere where the weather isn't always nice.

Another benefit of running is that it's easy on the joints, meaning that there is less chance of injury.

The chances of injuries such as sprains and strains are much lower than in other sports such as football or soccer.

Running is also great for burning calories. A lot of people ask, how many calories does running actually burn? While studies show that you can burn around 100 calories per mile, it is important to note that the numbers will vary depending on the runner and several other factors such as age and gender. 

Other benefits include the fact that you'll build muscle with this exercise.

What Muscles Benefit From Running?

Calf Muscles

When running, you're going to put pressure on your calves at various times throughout the process.

This is because you may want to take a step forward or backward and these movements require you to contract your calf muscles in order to move. 

These muscles are used when walking, so running will help them become stronger.

Hip Flexors

The hip flexor muscles are located in your hips, and they provide support for your spine.

They can often cause pain and discomfort when exercising, but running helps strengthen them.

You should make sure that you stretch these muscles after a run to ensure that they remain strong and flexible.


The quadriceps are the large group of muscles that attach from your thigh to your knee.

When running, you're going to put stress on these muscles and this is why they're responsible for supporting your knees.

Stretching these muscles regularly will prevent them from becoming sore and reduce the likelihood of injury.


These are the muscles that connect your leg to your backside, allowing you to stand up straight.

When running, you will put a lot of strain on these muscles and this can lead to tightness.

By stretching these muscles, you can keep them healthy and avoid any injury.

The Groin

Another area of the body that needs to be stretched regularly is the groin area.

Running puts a lot of stress here as well, and this is why you need to stretch before and after each session.

If you ignore this advice, then you could end up with a painful injury that can cause a lot of pain when trying to walk or run.

How To Stretch Your Legs After Running

How To Stretch Your Legs After Running

Nobody wants to have a pulled muscle, with some cases keeping people from doing exercises for weeks and months at a time.

By doing stretches, you make sure that you limit a lot of the potential injuries that could experience.

Here are a few common stretches that will help you to facilitate the muscle growth in the muscles stated above.

General Leg Stretches

Before running, try to stretch your hamstrings, quads, and calves before you begin your session.

If you have time, do a few stretches afterward. This allows you to warm up properly and prepare yourself for the run ahead.

Deep Squats

Hold onto something sturdy, such as a wall or chair, and slowly bend down until your thighs are parallel to the ground.

Hold this position for 10 seconds and then return to standing. Repeat this a few times until you can feel the blood pumping.


Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and place one foot behind you. Try to bring your back heel towards your buttocks.

Slowly drop into a lunge by bending your front knee and lowering your body until you reach 90 degrees.

Return to standing, repeat this motion with the opposite leg and continue to alternate until you've completed six reps.

Lunges are also a great weightlifting for runners who are aiming to strengthen their lower body muscles. All you need is a dumbbell in each hand, or any weight that is not too heavey and that you are comfortable using. 

Walk To Shift Lactic Acid

While there are supplements that help reduce lactic acid, walking will help shift lactic acid away from your muscles and out of your system.

Simply, take two steps toward the wall and lean against it. Walk away from the wall and turn around. Now go back toward the wall and take another step.

Continue alternating between leaning against the wall and taking steps away from it until you've done eight repetitions.

What Do I Do If I Pull Or Strain A Muscle?

Muscle strains often occur during exercise, especially if you don't warm up properly prior to starting.

In addition to stretching, it's important to ice your injured muscles immediately after an incident occurs so that swelling does not occur.

It may take several days for the muscle to fully heal, so be patient and follow the doctor's orders.

On top of this, we recommend taking a rest and ensuring that you don't aggravate your injury further.

Taking painkillers and resting your muscles is always the way to go once you've seen a medical professional.

Because of how serious some muscular strains can be, you need to make sure you keep your safety at the top of your priority list.

Final Thoughts

There are lots of different muscles, especially in the legs, that are worked out when running.

Because of how essential leg muscles are to everyday life, you need to make sure that you don't push yourself too far and strain your muscles.

If this happens then you should seek professional help from a doctor or physio and make sure that you get some rest.

With muscles such as the hamstring and the calf being integral to the activity of running, you need to make sure you stretch them before participating in any running.

This will help to minimize the potential risk of injuries and will make sure you have a good running experience.

Kevin Harris