Stretching before running or only after?

Question: Should I stretch before running or only after?


Answer by Luis Tavares

My advice is to do some light stretching, avoiding pushing too hard, before running and a more elaborated stretching after the training. This is due to the fact that after the training your muscles are warmed up, which facilitates a good stretching. On the other hand, before the training, even with a little jog, the muscles aren't well warmed up and, if you push too hard during the stretching, you will risk an injury like a pulled muscle.
Luis Tavares
e-mail: e.c.tavares@uol.com.br - site: http://www.ectavares.com.br

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Answer by Luis Antônio Sturian

Usually the stretching should be done both before and after running. But I recommend a softer
stretching before racing. In this case, it is better jog a little before stretching, since warmed up muscles react better during the stretching. After running one needs a more extensive and elaborated stretching for the balance of the muscles used during the training or the competition. 

Many athletes have stiffened muscles after the training and competitions, especially in the calf muscles, due to the lactic acid accumulation. So a more extensive stretching in this time is indispensable in order to facilitate the muscles' recovery. However, you have to remember that the stretching should never cause pain, since pain is an alert the muscles give to warn you that something is over the limit. So, be alert.
Luis Antônio Sturian
e-mail: voutreinar@voutreinar.com.br
site: www.voutreinar.com.br

Answer by Marco Alburquerque

There is a big risk of injury if a muscle suffers a sudden and brisk stimulus. The athlete that starts an intense workout, without a proper warm up, is taking an unnecessary risk of injury. It is important to remember that leaving out a warm up will not cause injury in 100% of the cases, but it will greatly increase the chances of it happening, and, sometimes, even well warmed up athletes suffer an injury. 

So, the warm up is a way to prepare the body for the effort it will suffer and, during the warm up, the athlete may, or not, do a stretching session. The stretching itself will not, in a direct way, alter the performance.

Light exercises, like slow pace walking, don't require a previous warm up. In this case the warm up happens during the walking. There is no need for a warm up before a low intensity aerobic activity.

The stretching after the workout is used by most athletes, since it is believed that the stretching acts like a relaxing stimulus for the muscles that were working hard for an extended time. It is important that the athlete knows that stretching is not advisable if the exercised muscle is injured.
Marco Alburquerque
e-mail: marcomrt@directnet.com.br

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Related articles:
Stretching for runners
, muscles' recovery

This article has informational purpose and  isn't a substitute for professional advice.

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