Sunday, August 22, 2010

Nike: Stretching Before and After a Run

originally posted March 25, 2010 by Coach Jay


New to running. 44-year-old male in good shape. Exercise 5-6 days a week (just never ran), preparing for a 10K in May. I've read all over the Nike+ site about the importance of stretching before a run - yet I have no idea what types of stretches, duration, repetitions, etc. Can you help? Thanks, Steve Davis

Steve - Thanks for the question and no doubt other readers have the same question. There are three keys regarding stretching as a distance runner.

First issue is to get out of the "no pain, no gain" mentality when stretching. While our skeletal muscles contain golgi tendon organs that protect the body from overstretching, we still have the capacity to injure ourselves by stretching too hard. When you feel pain, you're overstretching. And while you will gain flexibility within 2-4 weeks if you follow a stretching program, nothing changes this simple fact: pain and stretching do not go together.

The second thing to remember is that prior to a run the “stretching" should focus on joint mobility and getting the body ready to run. The Lunge Warm-Up and Myrtl routine featured in our video series are two great ways to prepare for a run, yet neither video will show any toe touches. Static stretching, such as toe touches, should not be the focus of your pre-run routine, though many runners think otherwise.

But static stretching fits well after your run and that's the third thing a runner needs to be honest about - if a runner finishes a run, showers, and then is sitting in a car or an office chair 15 minutes later that runner is setting himself up for injuries. Static stretching or yoga is exactly what a runner needs after a run — just 5 minutes of stretching will allow you to feel better on your subsequent runs — allowing you to slowly increase your mileage over weeks and months. The Back routine and Myrtl routine from the video series can also be used after your run, but simple static stretching that you would have done in middle school PE class is appropriate at this point.

Bottom line is five minutes and five minutes; make sure you add five minutes for joint mobility before your run and five minutes for static stretching, yoga, or more mobility work after your run and you'll have fewer running injuries.

Thanks for your question Steve and good luck with your training.
Coach Jay coaches athletes at RunnersCoach.com and blogs at CoachJayJohnson.com. And don't forget, if you have training question for Coach Jay, email him here: coachjay@nike.com

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