Pre-run Stretch? Good or bad?

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Jun 13, 2007 4:09 PM GMT
    Hi Guys,

    I am new to running and am training for the Florence Marathon through the AIDS Foundation of Chicago. Since announcing this big personal challenge I have been inundated with loads of unsolicited advice from lots of people who want to see me succeed. I know everyone means well but I am getting confused.

    One of the oddest things I've been told is NOT to stretch before a run. This seems counter intuitive and plain wrong.

    Any runners out there who can share their pre run routine? I feel like stretching can't be bad as long as it isn't overdone. Am I right?


    P.S. If anyone wants to support the AIDS Foundation of Chicago with a sponsorship I would be so appreciative!
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    Jun 13, 2007 5:37 PM GMT
    I personally do stretch before running, and I always have ever since high school track and cross country. I have never once seen anyone myself included get injured from stretching before a run. A 5-10 minute warm up jog or walk at an easier pace than your training runs may be in order before stretching, especially if you're at a desk job all day. Walking or jogging and stretching after the run is more important as it helps to prevent cramping and soreness and gets all the "junk" out.

    Are the people giving you the advice runners? Take into consideration how long they've been running and where they got their info...was it a coach, a reputable fitness magazine, the Enquirer?

    Good luck in your marathon.
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    Jun 13, 2007 5:44 PM GMT
    Unless you train daily, and are a highly conditioned athlete, one of the very worst things you can do with regard to sports injury is to stretch a cold muscle.

    Muscles are most pliable, and the attachments the same, post workout. NEVER, EVER, EVER, stretch a cold muscle. It goes beyond idiotic. As well, don't bounce in the stretch.

    Just because there are other idiots / morons in the world, doesn't mean that you should be, too.
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    Jun 13, 2007 5:46 PM GMT
    This is a matter of common sense as well as any number of studies by various high level academia.

    If you think, for just even a few seconds, it makes perhaps sense to stretch a warm muscle and not a cold one.
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    Jun 13, 2007 6:05 PM GMT
    How do you get a muscle warm enough to stretch it without harming it?
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    Jun 13, 2007 7:09 PM GMT
    Thanks for the tips!

    Some advice is from runners and some is from friends of runners.

    So it sounds like a good plan would be to:

    walk, jog a bit, stretch a bit,


    jog, walk and then stretch out for a cool down.
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    Jun 13, 2007 7:13 PM GMT
    I'd stretch before the run ONLY if you have an injury or strain. And I'd do that very, very gently. I had a very injured hamstring, and I had to stretch before hand to get it to open up a bit.

    If you are not injured, then stretch AFTER the run, again very, very gently.

    No sudden moves.

    For many, many years, prerun stretching was something I did. It never helped loosen me up.

    However, post-run stretching helped me not tighten up overnight, and made the next day's run more comfortable...and loose.

    Have fun.

  • atxclimber

    Posts: 480

    Jun 13, 2007 8:04 PM GMT
    As I think about it, I can't really think of any reasons you'd need your muscles stretched before running, although it seems intuitive that you'd want to... but yeah, unless you have exceptionally tight quads or hamstrings or whatever, with running you just need them to contract, not elongate.

    It's probably more important to stretch after running, so if the muscle's going to grow back stronger, it doesn't also grow back tighter.
  • soccerstriker

    Posts: 46

    Jun 13, 2007 9:58 PM GMT
    Chucky is right. Dont bother stretching a cold muscle as it will only lead to pulls and strains.

    As a runner, I prefer a warm-up, low-intensity run of a half or quarter mile in order to get the juices flowing, so to speak. Then I give myself a good stretch. This pre-stretch warm-up lets your muscles know that they are about to be worked-out and it allows for a better stretch!

    Its like letting your car idle in the morning during the winter before you take off for work, or like the difference between a brand new elastic band and one that has been used for a while.

    I have never heard of a cold-stretch run
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    Jun 13, 2007 10:03 PM GMT
    I'm just joining the bandwagon to say that stretching is a bad idea before your run. You should jog or walk briskly to get your heart pumping and then start running at an accelerated pace. LOTS of gentle stretching after your run will help relieve stiffness later that day. I suggest checking out, they have a lot of tips for beginners. GOOD LUCK! :)
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    Jun 13, 2007 10:38 PM GMT
    A couple of years ago, on the day before the Carlsbad 5000 5K run (which includes an invitational "elete" event with significant prize money), the organizers hosted an open workshop featuring a couple world-class runners and a couple of trainers working with runners of that caliber. Their advice was in concordance with the dominant advice already offered here: warm up, run, stretch afterwards.

    A little off topic:

    The workshop was a neat idea and the world class runners were great. At the end of the workshop, everyone who showed up got to run with the elete runners. The first half (out) was slow enough so everyone could keep up; on the other hand, the return was "every one for themselves". But no matter how slow a person was, a couple of the elite runners waited at the finish for every participant to arrive and gave them a "well done!".
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    Jun 23, 2007 11:25 AM GMT
    So, I've cut stretching before a run and I have been just fine.

    In the marathon training I am to run two times a week on my own for 30 - 45 minutes. then a run with my pace group on Saturday mornings.

    On my solo runs I am walking for the first 5 minutes with good results but at the pace run we didn't have a warm up walk at all. Ouch! My legs really hurt for the first mile or so then they were fine.

    I think I need to push for a warm up walk in the group.
  • atxclimber

    Posts: 480

    Jun 23, 2007 1:49 PM GMT
    Yeah, after I hurt my knee training for cycling I started being much better about taking the first 10 minutes of my ride to spin at a higher cadence than usual (close to 100rpm) at a slower speed than usual, to warm up the muscles and get the synovium in the joints flowing. It makes an amazing difference in how my legs and knees feel while I ride and days afterwards.
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    Jul 20, 2007 6:23 PM GMT
    I find it best to do a light warm up and gradually work up a light sweat. At this point I stretch, but I don't strain myself. There is an optimization point when dealing with muscles, they work best and most efficient when stretched, but not over stretched. It's all in the anatomy of the muscle and how much pull the myosin head can produce per contraction.