There has been a lot of controversy about when you should stretch and how you should stretch to get the most out of you running without doing more harm than good.
Before you run, it is important for you to prepare for your run by warming up. But why should you warm up before a run? The purpose is to raise your body temperature, elevate heart rate, increase breathing rate, lubricate joints, warm up connective tissue, and to wake up your central nervous system. The best way to do this is to do dynamic stretching (which I will cover in my next blog post about static versus dynamic stretching).
It is important to do some dynamic stretching before running and to start your run slowly. Some studies have even shown that stretching before a run isn’t necessary as long as you start your run with 5-10 minutes at a warm-up pace (about 2 minutes/mile slower than your normal pace).
The most important time to stretch is after your run. Often times, we are running short on time after a run and skip stretching. After your run, your muscles are warm and you should include both dynamic and static stretching into your cool down. It is recommended that you walk for 5 minutes at the end of your run and then do 5 minutes of stretching. While it is not always practical to take this time to cool down, it is a better option than injuring yourself.
Here is a great article about when to stretch and the reasoning behind it.
Please look for my next blog post to learn all about static versus dynamic stretching.