You’ve probably been told your whole life that you need to stretch before you run. Everyone says that stretching before running can prevent injury and improve performance. It maybe even leave you less sore afterwards. But is it really true?
Static stretching before a run is not giving you all of the benefits you think it is. Before a run, your muscles haven’t warmed up, so they’re still tight. Any stretches that you do aren’t really that effective anyways, because it’s difficult to stretch a cold muscle. Not only is it difficult, but it could even cause a pulled muscle! When the muscle is cold, it’s more easily torn, especially when you try to force yourself further into a stretch than your cold muscle should go. Some studies have even shown that runners who stretch before running, perform worse than those who don’t stretch at all!
However, stretching after a run can have all kinds of benefits! Now that your muscles are warmed up, they’re more pliable, you’ll find that you can stretch much better, though it’s important to note that you still should not overstretch to prevent injury. Stretching after a run also brings a huge feeling of relief, stretching those aching muscles in your legs after a run will make you feel much better. And many believe that stretching after a run can lead to less soreness the next day. You may also want to try a foam roller, either before or after you run!
So what is a runner to do before a run? Try a Dynamic Warm Up! Dynamic stretches will warm the muscles up and get them ready for a run, without the same risk of injury. The idea is that dynamic stretching builds intensity, allowing your body to adjust to the intensity of the workout you’re about to do while preparing for peak performance. For ideas on dynamic stretching, try these.