When to stretch?

Since I’ve started training for my half-marathon, I’ve been thinking a lot about stretching. I’ve never been much of a huge stretcher, nor do I do yoga or pilates, but I do think that stretching is important. When to stretch on the other hand, is much more of a gray area (for me anyway).

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On Saturday, I successfully completed my long 7 mile run on the treadmill. I had to take a few walking breaks here and there, but I got it done and that’s all that matters to me. The next day I was a little sore in my left hamstring, but I figured it was just because I have never run 7 miles before, so naturally my body should feel a little sore, right?

Well 2 days later, I was still feeling a slight “pull” in my left hamstring but decided to run anyway. While running, I wasn’t in any pain but I was definitely not 100%.  I decided to cap off my run at 2 miles, and take the rest of the time do some serious stretching. Like I said in my previous post, I am going to make a constant effort to listen to my body throughout my training. The last thing I want is to overtrain and end up with an injury!

I usually never stretch before my runs, but try to take a few minutes to stretch afterwards. On Saturday after I had finished my 7 miler, I briefly ( and I mean briefly) stretched after I finished my run. I’m not sure if that has anything to do with my left hamstring feeling a little funky or not, but I can’t help to think that it might. The problem is, when do I/ should I have stretched? Before my run? After my run? At the end of the day? At the beginning of the day?

Some research shows that stretching beforehand is not only counterproductive, but also harmful. Apparently your body thinks that it may be at a risk of being “over-stretched” so it compensates by contracting and becoming more tense. Other research shows that dynamic stretching is actually beneficial before a run, because it loosens the muscles, increases heart rate and body temperature which helps you run more effectively. Maybe different types of stretching are more effective before certain types of exercise? What do you think?

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Do you stretch before or after you run?

Does when you stretch impact your performance?

What types of stretching do you do? 

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Comments

  1. I can say this…I NEVER used to spend the time I should have stretching and I severely paid the price. I had a muscle tense up in the my upper back from a tension knot that I literally went to the ER bc I thought something was seriously wrong! I couldn’t move my whole upper body! After seeing a chiropractor and getting monthly massages for OVER a year…I finally feel like I’m at a place where I don’t risk that injury anymore (it’s more involved than what I described but not necessary to get in to). I am now a FIRM believer in spending AT LEAST one day a week JUST stretching. A dynamic warm-up is best before every workout and then follow your workout with a short yoga/stretch session (~5-10 minutes at least). Believe me when I say your body will REAP the benefits and your chances of over-training will go way down. Just as we exercise to take care of our bodies, we also must stretch and relax for the very same reasons!

  2. Dynamic Stretch before a run (Leg swings, arm swings, Hips swivels, High Knees..etc) It warms up the muscles while oiling up the joints.
    Static Stretch after your run when your muscles are hot, holding each stretch for 8 breaths or 20 seconds. You never want to stretch a cold muscle, this is why the most challenging stretches are always done last in yoga (pigeon ow!) Also, lead with your chest, not with your head, and never “bounce” during your stretch. Go as far as you can and breathe into it.

    Also, invest in a foam roller. It hurts so good!
    Stretching makes all the difference in your workouts, so definitley make sure to incorporate it into your routines. :)

  3. I do a thorough warm-up, run then do a cool down (which is the same as the warm-up) and stretching for my quads, calf muscles and hamstrings.

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