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Why You Should Stretch Before Running

By Edited Feb 11, 2016 0 0

There has been a lot of argument as to whether you should stretch or not when you go out for a run. People are also asking how long you should stretch for and how you should go about it. How many times have you ran straight out of the front door,down the road only to find that you have overdone it and pulled something. This only takes a couple of minutes and if you can get into the routine you will be on the right track.

It is a horrible experience for someone who is new to the sport, especially if they go out to fast. In as case like this they may pull a hamstring, and that takes weeks to recover fully. Being out of action for any runner can really drive you crazy.

Stretching before running has been something which has been debated over and over. Some studies will tell you that it is not necessary and in fact staying in the same position for a certain amount of time can do more damage before you get out there on the road.

For some runners, they have been stretching before heading out that it almost has become a ritual. Before a big marathon you will see runners warming up with a variety of exercises to keep the blood moving. People are asking if the injury was caused before you didn't stretch before going for a run.

Stretching for running - what is the purpose?

marathon runner
We stretch our muscles to lengthen the fibers inside and this increases the performance. Professional soccer players and other athletes will disagree with this statement.

The main thing we get out of stretching is the flexibility and if you think of it this way it is really not a bad thing to do a couple of stretches, exercises different muscles in your body. This is especially important when we come to master runners who lose some of that flexibility with age.

You will find that if you are experiencing any tightness then the stretching will come into play. Stretching after running and having times during the day to incorporate it into your routine more regularly if you have a certain tightness in one area like the calves or IT bands.

Stretching can help strengthen specific muscle groups that you are trying to focus on. For example if you have pulled a hamstring then regular stretching and getting into this sort of routine will help speed up the recovery rate. You have to be disciplined with this.

Stretching before or after running

The research that has been completed at various universities as well as with various Athletic Associations will tell you that stretching before a run doesn't reduce any injury. The study was constructed with over 2,000 runners of all levels so this should tell you a thing or two.
The evidence has been shifted towards runners risking less injuries if they don't stretch.

The most important thing is that if you are someone who stretches on a regular basis, then don't suddenly stop stretching. You should ease off the stretching process gradually. We can't say that this research is complete and you will find less injuries because you are not stretching, but when you find you do have an injury that crops up on your run, you can't blame it on the fact that you didn't stretch.

Stretching after running is going to help you more because your muscles are now more pliable because they have warmed up. Stretching cold muscles or muscles that have not been exposed to any activity yet is the reason why runners are more likely to flair up with some sort of injury, and this is dangerous. If you are going to stretch before running then it is recommended that you go for a light jog, just to get the blood flowing.

At the end of the day, you have to know what is right for you. It is your body and you will be the best judge of whether you think certain stretches are benefiting and when to stretch. You can even stretch just before you go to bad after a nice warm shower, but this doesn't work for everyone. There are no hard and fast rules. You have to know what is the best for you. You could forget to stretch at the end of the day so taking a little time after a run for this will really pay off.


How to stretch after running

You will want to start with your calf muscles, quadriceps and hip flexors as well as your hamstrings and your gluteal muscles because these are the muscles that we focus on during a run.

  1. It is important that the muscles are in a relaxed state. If you are not sure about this then it is best to sit or lie down otherwise it may be in that working state.
  2. Do different stretches for different types of muscles. Lie on one side and stretch your quads. Do this by pulling your ankle towards the back of your leg. You should feel the pull when you stretch.
  3. Stay away from movements which are quick, because that is hardly a stretch. A stretch should be held for 20 seconds at the least, so you shouldn't be casual about this.
Basic Guide to Common Running Injuries - Dealing with Planta Fascitiis, Shin Splints and other Problems
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