Stretching is a hot topic amongst the running community and the basic question is, is it better to stretch pre or post run or not at all?
We all have our own thoughts and feelings on what’s good for our body but if you want to know what the evidence says…The evidence says neither but if you must then it’s better to stretch after your run- NOT before.
Many runners believe that stretching decreases the risk of injury and soreness post run but studies have repeatedly shown us that while stretching temporarily increases flexibility…. the increase in flexibility does not necessarily prevent injuries.
Injuries are likely to be prevented by strength and balance training exercises that you could either do as part of a weekly program or you can set yourself a couple of warm-up and activation type exercises to do just before running (like marching, knee lifts, butt kicks, jumping jacks, or anything else that’s easy on your body but gets the hips moving and the blood pumping).
These types of strength exercises are important to get the neuron pathways firing. Preventing injury by strengthening the pathways and muscle fibres will also improve performance, giving you more strength and power.
Therefore, it’s more important to gain functional range of motion rather than to be flexible. Flexibility before running could potentially increase the likelihood of injury as your muscles have moved away from their actual functional range of motion.
So the best advice is, post run, when your muscles have warmed up this is the best time to stretch if you wanted to however it is not necessary if you’re not really pulling up tight. If you have an area that is tight – most runners find this to be in the calves, hamstrings, hip flexors, IT band and quads, gentle stretching is the way to go.