To stretch or not to stretch. That is the question.
It’s the great debate in the running world.
Do you stretch? If so, when? Before? After? How much? How often?
For years, it was recommended to “warm up” with static stretching prior to a run. If you didn’t, you’d be that girl/guy grabbing their hamstring in pain because proper stretching prevented injury. Now we know that’s totally false. No research has proven that static stretching before a workout prevents injury or improves performance. In fact, static stretching prior to your muscles being warmed up may increase your odds of getting an injury.
What is hands down recommended for any runner, is a dynamic warm up that gets the blood flowing to the muscles and the heart rate elevated slowly prior to a run or workout. It’s your best option. Good examples of a dynamic warm up are walking, lunges, walking alternating quad stretch, knee to chest, squats, etc. Or here’s 6 different options of dynamic warm ups from my running blogger friends.
If you want to do static stretching, post workout is the best time. That is, if you feel the need to. Studies vary on if any stretching is needed at all unless something feels tight. I personally do like to do a few stretches after a run. My calves, hamstrings, hips and lower back appreciate it after being pounded on for some time. Plus, it just feels good.
Moral of the story – if you like stretching, do it. If you feel like something is tight, stretch it, foam roller it, get a massage, work on mobility or all of the above. It’s really a personal preference.
That being said, I’d love to say that I devote a large chunk of time to stretch after each workout. However, I’d be lying. Most days, I’m lucky if I can get 2-5 minutes in. Feeding my face, taking a shower, Mama duties and life in general become more of a priority once I walk through the door post run. On days like that, I pull out my 5 favorite post run static stretches and will do a few outside of the house before I go inside. Because I know once I’m inside, there’s a slim chance it’s happening.
Hold each of these stretches for 30-60 seconds and you’ll be done in 5 minutes or less.
FYI – these pics are from inside because it’s freaking still winter over here in New Hampshire and I don’t want to freeze my buns off anymore than I already do every single day.
stretches: quads (hence the name)
stretches: psoas, quad, hip, , glute, hamstring, calf
stretches: you guessed it, calf muscle
stretches: lower back, hamstrings
If you follow me on Instagram, you know that this is one of my go-to stretches post run.
Standing Figure Four
stretches: piriformis, glute
Do you like to stretch?
What’s your post run fav stretch?