Do you stretch before going for a run?
It is a common belief that >15 seconds of static stretching can loosen up muscles and reduce injury risk in runners.
HOWEVER, recent research shows that static stretch before running has no benefit and can hinder running performance. This can be attributed to a reduction in the release of elastic energy from muscles and tendons after periods of static stretching.
Stretching is also commonly used on muscles experiencing Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) after exercise. Research on this area tells us that stretching has no effect in reducing the intensity or duration of DOMS either.
So, what should I do before a run to warm my muscles up? Walking/light jogging, dynamic movements (such as lunges, leg swings, calf raises) and some faster running efforts, totaling about 10mins, should be enough to prime our major muscle groups for a run.
Static stretch AFTER running has been shown to do not harm to muscles, so if it feels good, go for it!
See the image below for a summary:
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Running Myths – Not stretching before running causes injury
It is a long held belief that static stretching (i.e. long holds of >15 seconds) plays an important role in improving running performance and decreasing injury.
Current research evidence definitively demonstrates that this belief is in fact incorrect.