Friday, March 11, 2011

Expert Advice: Stretching

It sounds like everyone is sticking with their training and overcoming all the aches, pains, mental challenges, GI disturbances, boredom and weather-related issues! Nice to hear that we're hitting 20 miles and greater! Good job guys, keep it up!

I was recently asked about the value of stretching to avoid injury before or after exercise. Well, I believe that the jury is out on this one. There is literature to suggest that static stretching with 30 second holds before exercise does not decrease the risk of injury and that what is important is really a “warm up.” This is all well and good, but I still believe that some level of stretching at the beginning of a long run and then again at the end of your run can be helpful:

I would start off with a five-minute jog as a warm up, and then do a 10-minute stretching session. Focus on your quadriceps, hamstrings, calves, groin, IT band, hips and even your shoulders and neck. Stretching after a short warm up has been shown to be more effective than stretching “cold.” Personally, I found that when I did this, my run felt smoother, less stiff and achy and I didn't have the feeling that I had cement legs! I do think it’s very important, however, to spend 10 to 15 minutes stretching after your runs…especially the longer ones! Your muscles will feel tight and achy due to the lactic acid, fatigue and muscle strain, and the stretching can help you to recover quicker. And that hurt feels so good! Go team go!

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