Pre-Run Stretching

Why stretch before we run?

Many of us roll out of bed, or jump out of our vehicles, do a few cursory stretches and then hit the road running. Often these stretches are somewhat stationary (static), and have no physical value whatsoever. Studies have varied about the value of pre-running stretching and the one consistent finding is that static stretching has zero value. The idea that our bodies can stretch a muscle that has not been active, is completely wrong. What science has told us, is our bodies function best when we warm up our muscles and prepare them for even more strenuous activity. This process is call dynamic stretching. Dynamic stretching essentially means that we actively move to warm up the muscles that we will put under stress during our running. Warm muscles react better to stress (exercise) and less likely to pull, sprain or tear. Warm muscles also perform at a higher level, which is important when you want to get to a certain pace immediately.

Many runners have some muscle that is tighter, or can be problematic if not stretched prior to running, and these often require stationary static stretching. The best way to prepare these muscles is to do some dynamic stretching initially, maybe some light running and then static stretch the specific muscles. This strategy is also helpful for those that perform better with static stretching as well. Tight calf muscles are a common problem that affect various other locations, such as our shins. Trying to stretch the calf’s before warming them up, may possibly cause a calf strain, so warming up the calf muscles first, will allow for proper stretching.

This video shows 5 dynamic stretches that can be completed fairly quickly and will prepare the large muscles that runners depend on. Our suggestion is that you factor in 6 to 8 minutes before your run to make sure your muscles are ready to handle the stress or your running. Preparation before running a hilly route is imperative as well as any accelerated pacing (intervals). Please let NFLR know if we can help you with your stretching!