So I know I should be stretching before and after runs, but I have no idea what to do. I just started C25K this week and I want to be sure I'm do all the right things so I can stick to the program and avoid injuries. I need some help here. Someone please tell me what to do.
A basic stretching routine hits all major muscle groups. The stretching routine I have always used is the following:
Feel free to stretch after your runs, but a lot of recent research shows that it doesn't do much. You would be better off doing dynamic warm-ups, core strengthening, and flexibility exercises before you run. Here are my favorites that I put together: http://bit.ly/bE2PXY.
I've found it helps me a lot to do 5-15 minutes of these types of exercises before and after every run. They really help prepare you to run and then stretch out/warm-down afterwards, in addition to overall strengthening benefits.
Before my runs I do traditional stretches and after my runs I do a pilates / yoga combo. I definitely recommend going to a pilates class or doing an at home DVD (you can stream them on netflix even) to learn stretches you can do on your own. I find they eliminate soreness and targets muscles I didn't even know needed stretching. And like Fitz says, it's a great way to build strength - I am definitely a stronger runner now that I also do pilates and yoga.
I'm not sure where you heard that you need to stretch before your runs, but take it easy on that. Unless you warm up first, you can end up doing more harm than good if you try to overstretch cold muscles. At the most a few easy stretches to loosen up are all you need. If you feel like you need to be doing more stretching its best done after the run. Lots of runners (including me) stretch very little other than just a few limbering up moves.
The best way to avoid injury is to take your time building up the time and distance you run. Giving your body a chance to adapt to the stresses and become conditioned to running rather than trying to do too much too soon is the best injury prevention. The jury is out on whether overall stretching really does much to prevent injury.
Everybody's right here. If you read 20 research articles on stretching you'll find some that find it's worthless, some that tell you it's important to stretch before or stretch after or both. I find stretching loosens me up after a run. If you have access to a foam roller you'll be amazed how well it gets rid of those niggling aches and pains. Foam roll first then stretch after that. Google foam roller and you'll get a good video. Jason's link had some great stuff there but if you are a beginner and a bit older it may be too much for you. Again google dynamic stretches (they are stretches that have your body moving) if you want to warm up before running. If you static stretch after (the kind of stretches that most people think of as "stretching" where you hold a position for 30sec.) again google stretches and you'll get a few key stretches like glute, piriformis, hamstring, calf.
Plan your run and then run your plan.
This is always a fun topic. I'm not sure there really is a "right" answer here. I personally have been there and back and have settled on the idea that I never stretch before my runs but make sure that I get a good slow easy 10-15 warm up jog/run before actually getting up to the days pace. I do however stretch for 15-30 min after my runs. I'm 52 and was not very flexible when I started running 3 1/2 yrs ago. I read a lot of articles on stretching and was so mixed up I didn't know what to do. SO, I ended up slowly but surely finding what works best for me. I need to stretch after my runs otherwise I get to stiff and sore. I also have been able to improve my flexibility with nice warmed up muscles from running then stretching so that's been good as well. I believe almost everyone agrees that cold stretching needs extreme caution and good common sense needs to be applied to warm muscle stretching. Don't stretch so far that it hurts! My advice would be to progress slowly and cautiously to find what works for you. If you don't feel any benefit from stretching then probably don't waste the time. Just make sure you warm up a little easy when you start off cold. Good luck and if you find the perfect answer to fun question let me know...
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I don't stretch much before and that works for me. Definitely stretch and self-massage afterwards. Foam rollers are amazing. The technique they utilize is called SMR- self myofascial release. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Myofascial_Release
I won't disagree with people here and say cold stretching as part of a warm up is necessarily a good thing.
I'd gone through a period where I didn't stretch much at all pre-training. No stretching after a run, just walk it off a little. That period was one of great lingering soreness almost daily.
The next period I started to cold stretch more before runs. I think I actually injured myself tearing calf and thigh muscles just from stretching during that period. I rested and healed.
I've now come to a period of trying to loosen up with a 10-15 minute period of warm up walking around the house, climbing stairs, etc mixed with some light cold stretching-being very careful to try and not force the muscles into stretching which might lead to a tear. Then, I also have added a similar period of stretching post training run. I can't say exactly it to be true-but I think some of the DOMS has been reduced with this new routine.
One thing I'm fairly certain of, and picked up based on advice from this forum, is that I've found some hip flexor stretching exercises that I try to do regularly around training runs and sometimes throughout the day. I never even knew I had hip flexors until they became sore. They were a bear to straighten out over a few months, but I do believe the stretching exercises have helped them immensely and they are no longer bothering me.
I don't do much stretching before I run a slow jog seems to be best for me, but the ones that are very important to my body are stretching my neck and back. My legs and arms tend to be fine while I run, but I notice I my neck and back get stiff if I don't get those stretched out a little before I go. Usually just a few head rolls and arms above the head and bend side to side works.
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Recently active had a decent article which I'm following now:
Recently active had a decent article which I'm following now:
I've been doing these also lately and find they do make me feel warm faster. I do a light 3-5 minute jog in the parking lot, active stretch and get to the line (after hitting the head of course)
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You kidding me? After the first day of doing those things, I was surprised at how many leg muscles I've got that aren't apparently being used I agree with you.
But, seriously, I like some of the upper leg focus, and hope they help me down the road in my newfound tendency to strain hamstrings. Actually, I've not started back running since beginning these (I'm in a reconstruction phase) but they seem to give you a halfway decent workout all on their own.
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