There seems to be quite a bit of confusion out there about stretching and when best to do it. Especially stretching before running is quite controversial and some even say it doesn’t work or isn’t worth the time.
In my experience, stretching daily does serve a purpose (especially after running) – and if you’re looking to prep for your next run, dynamic flexibility exercises are something to consider.
After all, getting your body ready to run is as important as what you do on the run itself. On that note, here’s some guidance on dynamic stretches before running.
SHOULD YOU STRETCH BEFORE OR AFTER RUNNING?
If your physio, or injury specialist, has told you to do pre-run stretches before you head out the door, then that’s fine. But, in general, for most runners and most runs, I’d recommend to walk and build up to normal running pace.
Stretching daily, especially after easy and general training runs, definitely seems to lead to less injuries in my experience. The body needs to be massaged, fibres stretched out and adhesions and knots stripped out of tired and damaged muscles – stretching post-training can really help with this process.
It’s definitely better to cut your run short by 5–10 minutes to get in the key stretches to re-align muscle fibres and encourage re-oxygenated blood full of nutrients into the muscle. Just running and never stretching is taking a risk and slowing down recovery.
If you’re going to do a hard training sessions or run fast, it’s good to do some dynamic stretches before running – that is, stretching on the move, which will dynamically mobilize the muscles and get more blood to the important areas.