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Spinoff: To stretch, or not to stretch...that is the question (Read 864 times)


Needs more cowbell!

    Spinoff of a comment Daddyo made in one of the survey threads. I have read recommendations by other seasoned runners to forego the pre-workout stretch entirely. I'm interested to see what take other RA members have on this issue. When I first started the c-to-5k program I don't recall stretching, aside from a 5 minute warm-up walk. Then as I started to increase my runs beyond just a few miles I started having muscle tightness and shin issues, so I started stretching. In HS we always did a very thorough stretch before and after track practices. But I'm not 100% behind either theory. I'm not certain that stretching before a run does or doesn't benefit. k

    I shoot pretty things! ~

    '14 Goals:

    • 6 duathlons (1 Olympic distance)

    • 130#s (and stay there, gotdammit!)

      I do a lot of stretching ... but almost none of it *before* a run. From what I've read - and from my own experience - I don't think cold stretching does a thing for you. In fact, I think it's just a really efficient way to injure yourself. I always stretch afterwards though, once my muscles are warm. My uncle was a sub-2:30 marathoner, and he had a habit of starting with a few slow miles (for him probably 8:00 or so), and then stopping for a few minutes to stretch thoroughly before picking up the pace.
      E-mail: JakeKnight2002@aol.com
      -----------------------------

      Scout7


      CPT Curmudgeon

        I used to stretch before every run. Now, I generally keep it ankle and knee rotations, maybe some hip rotations too. I MIGHT do more, depending on how my calves and shins feel that day. You can stretch cold. I used to, and never got hurt doing it. But....You have to do it slowly, and steadily. No bouncy bouncy, no bend over, pull till it hurts, count to 10, and bounce back up. Bad, bad bad.
        vicentefrijole


          FIRST: One clear observation I think we can all agree on (so we don't tell any new runners NOT to stretch): a good runner MUST find some way to maintain/increase flexibility as a part of injury prevention. Your question: a good one! From what I've heard and read, there's a lot of controversy about the benefits of "static" (or passive) stretching (I assume you're talking about the traditional stretches we all know and love) before running. There also seems to be some debate about whether stretching cold vs stretching warmed-up makes any difference (though I'm in agreement with those here that say it 'feels' MUCH better to warm up first). There are even a lot of people who criticize the whole idea of static stretching as possibly harmful (these people tend to advocate more dynamic stretching methods... don't ask... I don't understand them). Personally, I don't know what to believe. I know there are some PT and physiology experts in this forum on occasion, perhaps they can help us out? Right now, I simply do what feels right. It doesn't feel very good to stretch cold, so I don't generally do it (except, perhaps, a few problem areas and then very very gently, like Scout7 said). I do often run a few miles to warm up and then stop and do some simple stretches (nothing serious as I don't want to cool down). I always try to do a nice long stretching session at the end of my workout (holding stretches 30+ seconds, and repeating twice when I am being good) and I think I am less likely to face injury when I keep up with my stretching. That said, I'd be really interested in learning new approaches. I've recently started some yoga (OK, I took one beginner class, but I plan to go back) and I think that might be a nice addition to my flexibility training.


          Needs more cowbell!

            That said, I'd be really interested in learning new approaches. I've recently started some yoga (OK, I took one beginner class, but I plan to go back) and I think that might be a nice addition to my flexibility training.
            I really like yoga. I hope to incorporate at least one day of yoga into my weeks...mostly because it's slower-paced and relaxing, but also because it feels so damned good. I usually stretch cold, but very carefully and slowly. I have thought about doing maybe some jogging in place and/or jumping jacks for a few minutes to warm-up, that way I can stretch indoors where it's WARM. That will also get me warm enough where going outdoors into the cold will feel refreshing, rather than make me chilled and want to turn around and go back in. I also tend to run after I have been up and around for a while (walking around the house getting my son and I ready, out to the car, into his school, and back home), so I'm not just crawling out of bed and stretching for my workouts before having done much movement. k

            I shoot pretty things! ~

            '14 Goals:

            • 6 duathlons (1 Olympic distance)

            • 130#s (and stay there, gotdammit!)

            Scout7


            CPT Curmudgeon

              There are even a lot of people who criticize the whole idea of static stretching as possibly harmful (these people tend to advocate more dynamic stretching methods... don't ask... I don't understand them).
              To kind of go along with that, I have seen that the Army is starting to go to dynamic stretching routines in Basic Training and beyond. I got a brief introduction to it once, so I am by no means an expert on it. But, the stuff we had to do was a lot like form drills for running. Mostly it was short distance stuff, high knees, skipping, stuff like that. How accurate the routine was, or how much of it is even being used, I couldn't tell you. I have seen nothing formal about it published. If I do see something, I'll let y'all know.
                I do a lot of stretching ... but almost none of it *before* a run. From what I've read - and from my own experience - I don't think cold stretching does a thing for you. In fact, I think it's just a really efficient way to injure yourself.
                Wow. I'm actually going to have to agree with GorillaMan here. Shocked Mark this date! If I'm going to stretch, it'll be after the run, not before.

                Roads were made for journeys...

                  Purely anectdotal but I used to stretch a lot and I used to be injured a lot. I now stretch almost not at all, and I'm injured almost never. Probably no cause and effect either way. I don't see much evidence that stretching, or not stretching does much of anything for runners. I think there is something to the "active stretching if at all" bandwagon that is popular amongst runners. And I agree that stretching cold muscles probably does more harm than good. FWIW, here's the sum total of my stretching: In the early morning, before my alarm goes off and while I'm lying in bed enjoyng the last cozy moments before I get up to go running, I wiggle my feet around in circles and point my toes up and down repeatedly to loosen my calves and warm up my feet before they hit the cold hardwood floors. Then, occasionally-going-on-rarely, on a rare night when I actually sit down and watch TV, I'll do some active stretching of my calves and hammys with a towel around the ball of my foot. That's it. Come to think of it, it's been weeks since I did the latter.

                  Runners run.

                    My sports medicine guy told me not to bother stretching cold, so I'm going with it. Wink He said the research showed that stretching helped some people and other people it didn't. He said that actually the people that it helped had faster race times as well as added flexibility. The others, it didn't affect either way. I don't stretch much and he's cool with that, as long as I stretch out this hamstring/lower back injury a time or two after each run. I figure my dh stretches all the time. cold and after a run and he's always injured. Me, never stretch and no running-related injuries. (The lower back / hamstring thing started before I began running at all.) Therefore stretching is dangerous. Big grin Teresa
                      I am one of those guys who can't touch thier knees when sitting on the floor. I have been like that all my life. I walk on the TM for about .5 mile then stretch before I run, and then after I run. Those stretches are three sets holding for 30-40 secs at a time. It helps me. Eases pain.
                      Age is not an illusion
                      vicentefrijole


                        I have thought about doing maybe some jogging in place and/or jumping jacks for a few minutes to warm-up, that way I can stretch indoors where it's WARM. That will also get me warm enough where going outdoors into the cold will feel refreshing, rather than make me chilled and want to turn around and go back in.
                        Yeah! I like that idea. A couple weeks ago it was pouring rain out, so I started my run on the treadmill. After a couple miles I was pretty warm and I stopped to stretch. Then I noticed that the rain wasn't coming down as hard so I went for the rest of my run outside. It was one of the best runs I've experienced in a while! I think a little warm-up can go a long way. This is really interesting reading everyone's opinions/experiences with stretching! I'm amazed at the amount of variability that people experience with the benefits/drawbacks of stretching.
                        vicentefrijole


                          In the early morning, before my alarm goes off and while I'm lying in bed enjoyng the last cozy moments before I get up to go running, I wiggle my feet around in circles and point my toes up and down repeatedly to loosen my calves and warm up my feet before they hit the cold hardwood floors.
                          I like to do this too! I started after I experience some plantar fasciitis a while back and I still do it (mainly because it feels good). I also like to point my big toe up and my other toes down and then vice versa. It took me some practice to be able to do it, but it really stretches out those little muscles in my feet. Big grin
                            I just stretch my mind, man. It's groovy.
                            E-mail: JakeKnight2002@aol.com
                            -----------------------------

                            Scout7


                            CPT Curmudgeon

                              I just stretch my mind, man. It's groovy.
                              *Snerk* Might be stretching your wallet, too, if you take on too many bets.... Just sayin'...


                              Needs more cowbell!

                                I shoot pretty things! ~

                                '14 Goals:

                                • 6 duathlons (1 Olympic distance)

                                • 130#s (and stay there, gotdammit!)

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