Stretching Discussion – Should I or Should I NOT?
There has been a lot of debate on how, when, why, and the benefits of stretching. Added to that there’s a school of thought that it may put you at risk of injury. Let’s discuss the chance of injury first. I’ve heard it said that stretching while cold puts the muscles, tendons, and ligaments in a compromised position. Since I have not seen evidence in either direction I suggest relying on common sense. Before a run when you’re not warmed up only stretch to the point were you feel the initial pull. Don’t go deeply into any stretches until the area is well warmed. We approach stretching after the run/walk with AI stretches. These are stretches that include a range of motion to warm the area as you stretch it. This will promote blood and warmth to the area and make the area more receptive to the motion. Edgers do a calisthenic warm up involving movement and light stretches. Come out for one of our group runs and get an Edge on your warm up.
Some have said injury can also occur because a joint can now move further than it should because we have stretched it. If we force a joint to move beyond its normal range of motion this would put it at risk. If we stretch and strengthen areas with a normal range of motion this should protect us from such risk.
Post run stretching can be very effective because the muscles are warm and limber. This is the time to go deeper into the stretches.
So how should we stretch? Only stretch to the point of the pull when cold. When warm you can go deeper but always be careful. Like any form of exercise if you take it to far you are risking injury. A.I. stretches using a non-stretching nylon band has helped Edgers keep injuries to a minimum. For Edge’s stretches click here.
Although Science hasn’t proven that stretching has specific rewards to our performance or in preventing injury. One thing it can provide is a chance to focus your mind on the run to come or the accomplishment you just did. Use this time to prepare. Get yourself ready for that 20miler, the run to the corner, the interval work, that hill, picture yourself flying along and doing your best. Focus on the positive and don’t let your negative thoughts about the run come in. Forget your day at work, your responsibilities; this can be taken as your time. This will make your workout more rewarding.