Stretching: you either love it or you hate it.

There’s something wonderful about a good stretch! It helps you to warm up your muscles before a run, and it can get rid of the aches and pains of hours spent sitting. We all know stretching before a workout is important, as it helps to prevent sore muscles. But should you stretch before a run?

Stretching is still one of the most hotly-debated topics in the fitness world. Whether you’re “for” or “against” it, there are a few things you need to know about stretching before running:

Start with dynamic stretches — Did you know that static stretching (the kind where you “hold” the stretch for 15 to 60 seconds) will actually REDUCE your running performance? In a study published in PLOS One, athletes who stretched before running not only got off to a slower start, but they also felt more fatigued after the run. They used the same amount of energy as runners who didn’t stretch, yet the static stretches used up more energy.

On the other hand, dynamic stretching (using active stretches to warm up the muscles), has been proven to improve endurance! It can help you to run longer and feel less tired after your runs.

Here are a few good dynamic stretches to try:

No more than 10 minutes — Did you know that 10 minutes is all you need to warm up for your runs? A 2011 study found that 10 minutes of dynamic stretching helped to improve strength, stamina, and endurance across the board.

You don’t have to spend a lot of time warming up. With a few minutes of brisk walking and dynamic stretching, you’ll be ready to run your race like a rockstar!

End the race with static stretching — The best time to work on your flexibility is AFTER your muscles are warm, and you’ve given them a good workout. You should take a few minutes after your run to cool down with a nice, relaxing stretching session.

Yes, your muscles will be exhausted, but cooling down with a few simple static stretches will help to increase circulation to the muscles–thus helping your body to replace lost nutrients and electrolytes. You’ll be able to increase your flexibility and mobility, all the while letting your muscles recover from the workout.

One thing to keep in mind: DO NOT push the stretches too much. You may feel that you can stretch farther, but that’s just because your muscles are warm. Push too hard, and your risk of injury is MUCH higher than it would be had you stretched before your workout.

Stretching before your run is a good way to get your blood flowing, your heart pumping, and your body warm. Stretch right, and you’ll run harder, go longer, and feel better afterward!

 

Written By:  Andy Peloquin

Andy