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Should I stretch before I run or just after? I have heard that you should never stretch cold muscles but I have also heard that you should stretch before you run. I have been trying to do the C25K and have been having some knee problems so was wondering what the best thing to do is. Thanks!
Stretching has gotten to be a pretty hot topic these days. Do stretch, don't stretch.......etc,etc..... It makes sense to me not to "over" stretch tight cold muscles so I rarely do much stretching before I run. Usually I just walk for a few minutes, then jog for a minute or two and then ease into my runs. I have done some very light stretching before races and plan on continuing this as I want to conserve as much energy as I can for the race. I'm no expert on this subject and have struggled trying to understand the right thing to do. I can't even get a straight answer out of the several physical therapist I've talked to about stretching. I've finally just come to the understanding that what ever works best for you is the way to go, BUT just be careful of cold tight muscles or injuries and don't over stretch. Most agree that stretching after a run is a good thing. Here is what works for me. Warm up a few minutes before getting into my run then after the run do 2-4 reps of 30- 45 sec stretches, hamstrings, quads, calves, hip flexors and back. I also do a single light stretch rotation before I go to bed on hard running days, this helps me sleep better. Good luck, I'm anxious to read what other poster recommend. I don't have knee issues so I can't comment on that, but I have read that you should use caution stretching injuries without having them checked out first by a physician.
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I am no expert either.... but what I usually do is do a quick warm up, then stretch before my actual run. Then I do a cool down after my run with another round of stretching to follow. I usually only spend maybe 5 minutes stretching each before and after my runs. I have also be known to do some stretching just because I could feel some tightness too. I agree that you basically have to find what works for you keeping injury free and running. Good Luck.
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Every authority I've talked to, including my baby brother who is a Dr. specializing in Sports Medicine, says that yes you should stretch before and after intense running especially if you are new to running. Seasoned runners or power walkers may not need to stretch before, if they are doing a brisk walk as a way to warm up. But everyone should do at least some amount of stretching after.
A good analogy is to think of your muscles as a rubber band. When it's cold, you can't just pull that rubber band really fast or it will snap. But if you warm it up by stretching it in small, slow amounts it will end up stretching really far. Patience is the key.
There is a great article about stretching here: http://www.bodybuildingforyou.com/articles-submit/tanja-gardner/stretching.html
What I like about the article is that it goes into different kinds of stretching, depending on the kind of workout you're going to do. For example: There is evidence that stretching before weight training is counter productive, while stretching before martial arts is very beneficial. It also goes into the right and wrong way to stretch.
Some of it depends on whether or not your muscles are going to be "shocked" by sudden or unfamiliar movements; that increases the likelihood of pulling a muscle. Since most people are used to walking, it's usually not necessary to stretch before a walk. But if you're going to do kick boxing or dancing, your muscles are not going to be accustomed to the moves. So that is where stretching will help prevent injuries.
Also, if you have any kind of health issue such as hip displasia, then specific stretches can really help reduce pain.
Hope this helps!
I completely agree with Dog-lover, who explained it best. I think it's a split decision. I basically do exactly what Dog-lover described. My muscles are so tight in the morning that I feel like stretching doesn't help anyway.
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To quote Runner's World: "Indeed, studies show that static stretching—holding a muscle in an elongated, fixed position for 30 seconds or more—could hurt performance if done before a workout (save it for after your run)." The emphasis lately seems to be on pre-run dynamic stretching - using warmup exercises that also mildly stretch your muscles to get them ready for exercise. There have been articles in recent issues in both Runner's World and Running Times about how to do it. Also an online article here: http://www.runnersworld.com/article/0,7120,s6-241-287--13442-0,00.html. Personally, I stretch little or none before my runs, and only occasionally after. I have a routine I do 3 or 4 mornings a week that includes calisthenics and stretching, and that seems to be adequate.