It's time to mix things up.
The importance of stretching prior to going out for a run is something that has been hotly debated by health and fitness professionals for years. Is it crucial for performance, or rather does it just increase the risk of injury?
Today on Gymshark Central, we’re looking into it and asking, should you REALLY stretch before going for a run?
While you might think that stretching before exercise is always a good idea, studies have shown that static stretching (that’s stretching a muscle and holding that position) might actually do more harm than good. Research reveals that stretching could lead to a reduced force production due to inhibiting nerve contraction, essentially meaning that it makes you slower.
But does that matter if it is going to prevent you from getting injured when pounding the pavement?
Well, the truth is, there is a lot of evidence to suggest that it might not even do that. Studies conducted by Neuroscience Research Australia revealed that pre-run stretching does not reduce the risk of injury.
In fact, by stretching before you have warmed up your muscles could actually increase the risk of injury rather than reduce it. When your muscles are colder, they are a lot tighter than they are after being ‘warmed-up’, therefore stretching before any form of warm-up, could just result in you tearing muscle fibres.
When it comes to avoiding injury during your run, a functional warm-up is more important than flexibility.
This means, therefore, that dynamic stretching (stretching that involves the repetition of movement that gradually increases the range of motion) could be an option for those wanting to stretch out but also to warm up their muscles and prevent injury. The main focus before going out for a run should be to get blood and oxygen to the muscles and begin to increase your heart rate. Spending just 10 minutes on dynamic stretches and a light warm-up could, therefore, be beneficial.
After your run, your muscles will be nicely warmed up which is the ideal time to focus on static stretching to improve recovery, range of motion and flexibility.
Alright, so let’s wrap this up.
Static stretching has been shown to have a negative impact and ideally should be avoided before going out for a run, and instead replaced with a light warm up and dynamic stretches. If you want to use static stretches to increase your range of motion, you might want to save it until after your run.