Im hearing this more and more so I wanted to throw it out there and see what everyone says.
Ive been told that there is no point in stretching before a run. The first time someone told me that, I just assumed they didnt know what they were talking about. But Im hearing it more and more. I still hear that you should stretch after a run, but theres no need to do it before. Please clarify.
What you heard is true, for the most part. You definately do not want to stretch cold muscles, as this can increase your chances for injury. Stretching after a run is crucial to avoid injury, though many runners skip this part. A lot of people like to do a warm up, such as 5 minutes of running and then stretch before continuing the run, but this is a matter of personal preference. I like to do this because I have a problem with my calves cramping if I don't. Good Luck!
Run Deb, Run
You are not supposed to stretch. As you start your run your legs will naturally warm up and stretch the muscles. First of all never sprint right away when you run (you probably already knew this) take it easy and slowly bring up your pace to where you usually run at.
I do a light stretch before every run, but that's just personal preference. I concentrate on back, neck and shoulder muscles so that I can relax when I start my run.
I agree with others that post-run stretching is crucial.
You do want to stretch before you exercise. The type of stretching is where the confusion comes from. Dynamic stretching is what you want to do before you exercise and static stretching is what you want to do after an exercise. When you do a brisk walk or a slow jog before a run you are doing dynamic stretching. The goal is to warm your muscles so you do not injure then when you start working hard. There are many many ways to do this. A brisk walk or slow jog is the most common for running. Kicking slowly so that momentum does not pull the muscle is also popular. Static stretching is what schools have done forever. You bend until you feel a pull and hold it there. This will increase your flexibility and help relieve soar muscles.
I never used to stretch before a run, but have started doing a couple of light stretches for my shins and shoulders. I've found for me that stretching my shins a little before I start running helps keep away the shin pains. I have an overuse injury in my right shoulder from carrying heavy purses and bags so I try to stretch it out good or it starts to hurt after a couple of miles. If you prefer to stretch before your run, warm up first with some light walking or running so your muscles are warmed up.
True Story - In 1997 I was in Everett, WA for military training. Our routine was to go out for a run just before lunch. I stretched out prior to one run and pulled my groin so badly I couldn't walk for 3 weeks and it took another 4 years before I felt the muscle memory of the injury go away. I definately stretch after a run but never before anymore. I now warm up by lightly jogging or walking a bit before.
Hope this helps.
I agree with many of the responses above avoiding pre-run stretching. I have been running for over four decades now and have only one hiatus injury period - but it lasted seven years! I used to run competitively with a lot of pavement running. My coach had us do warm-ups then static stretches - I find that this does not work for me. Here's what I use for injury-free running:
1. No pavement - always on trails/dirt. The variety of angles for footplants keep you strong and healthy plus the "give" of earth vs. pavement
2. No pre-run stretching, be o.k. with reduced flexibility. Recent articles in Running and Fitness News have cited that lack of flexibility is not a problem for runners, and the converse (a lot of flexibility) can lead to injury.
3. Weight training at least three times a week - just short 10 minute workout concentrating on muscles not used during running (abs, upper body, etc)
4. NEVER more than 10% gain in mileage in any given week
5. Tia Chi and Qi Gong exercises three times a week for balance, inner peace, and coordination - I quit doing yoga three years ago - it did not help me.
I have found in the last few years what works for me is to split my long runs (6-8 miles) in half. Run 30 minutes or until my quads get tight, stop stretch for a few minutes, then finish the run. I don't feel a need to run straight through, I'm still getting all my aerobic exercise and the difference in how I feel after the stretch break is significant. Then I stretch more thoroughly after the run.
In response to Dave Knutson...I agree for the most part, but saying that a lack of flexibility isn't bad for runners is a little misleading. You don't need to be able to wrap your legs around your head, but you need flexibility to prevent injuries. For example, if you have overly tight hamstrings it can lead to low back issues. A tight IT band can cause tendonitis and sideline a runner for weeks. Stretching is very important, especially for runners. I'm a physical therapist, and I see so many runners (especially this time of year with marathons in full swing) and a majority of their injuries result from lack of flexibility. Just focus your stretching on post-run.
Run Deb, Run
Research shows that stretching in the warm-up decreases performance when an athlete is going to perform "explosive" movements, such as sprinting, jumping, throwing, etc. Stretching before endurance exercise may not hurt you, but performance-wise, doesn't help you either. What decreases your chance of injury for endurance activities, like running, is performing a good 5-10 minute thermal warm-up. Walking or jogging is best before running because these activities incorporate the "rehearsal effect" -- allowing the neuromuscular system to practice the muscular patterns used during the workout. A thermal warm-up also gradually raises the heart rate, which is less stressful on the cardiovascular system, and allows the body to prepare for increased aerobic metabolism. Runners need to stretch after. I'm a big fan of Pilates for runners!
Everyone here has got the right Idea, warm-up stretch a bit run on COOL DOWN then static stretching - which will not only provide fexablity but has been shown to increase aquisition of muscle mass! Good stuff that stretching, even if a bit boring! Blessings, Ragz
To God be the glory!
I personally am no scientist but from experience I find stretching before the race is good. Just stretch for about 15min before. don't get crazy and do super stretches. just enough to wake up the body. However I have not stretched before a race and it did not hurt me either so If you plan on running a 6 min mile or faster I recommend stretching. As far as after the race you really need a cool down run and a really good 30 min of slow easy stretches. Follow up everyday with some stretches especially after a marathon.
Very complex issue. For example, stretching the calf muscles actually reduces your running economy (NISMAT publication) though there is also the question of whether stretching may reduce the inidence of injury. As a researcher, physical therapist, and avid triathlete/multisport athlete I generally advise people to take a slower than normal warm up for sports such as cycling and running then have a good stretch post workout focusing on the hip flexors/iliopsoas complex, Iliotibial band, and gastroc-soleus complex. It is critical that each stretch per muscle group be held at least 5 times for one minute and hold-relax stretching (PNF) can be employed. For more ballistic style sports such as soccer, rugby, and football I encourage a more dynamic warm up with static stretching post workout. This stretching advice in regards to time and duration is based off of the work of Peter Magnusson who has done extensive research in this area and currently works in Denmark. I also recommend reading the work of Mal McHugh. There is also what is called neural tension which enters the equation when you are talking about stretching (Butlet, Shacklock, Elvey etc) because often times the nerves can be the limiting factor in regards to moving a limb through its range of motion. Nerves are like ropes and dont like to be statically stretch but rather glided through movement whereas muscle respond more favorably to static stretching. Sorry to be so exhaustive but I just want people to know that this is a very complex topic and recommendations must be considered on a case by case basis considering a patients musculoskeletal profile and past medical history as well as the amount of physical activity they engage in
So long story short, I recommend running at a slower than normal pace for the first five to 10 minutes before kicking up your speed. Static stretching can be performed post training session.
I also strongly encourage you to do seated hip raises for s strengthening exercise (must be seated holding on the ktichen counter top with ankle weights around the foot, 2 sets of 25 alternating. I also suggest sidelying leg raises again with an ankle weight around the foot (2 sets of 10 slow and controlled). Lastly perform single leg stance one time holding it for 5 minutes with a slight bend in the knee and keeping the pelvis level. Otherwise I would just strive to maintain good flexibility in the hip flexors and iliotibial band because it is critical for longevity.
"You are only as good as your last injury"
Hey Critter, do you have any diagrams of the stretches you recommend, I get most of them from discrption but a visual would be a great help! Thanks, Ragz
To God be the glory!