Week #10 – Stretching
There are countless articles that state how stretching either does not help prevent injury and/or will not improve sport performance. I disagree, and so do so many other professional runners as well. When we run and run frequently, our muscles can become tight and shortened over time. Continue exercising without correcting these conditions and problems can occur.
There is also confusing information about when and how much to stretch. The most current research in favor of stretching suggests the following three steps:
Begin with a 3-5 minute "dynamic warm up" before stretching. For example, prior to a run session you should ideally run easy for 3-5 minutes before you begin to stretch. You can also do running drills during this time as your warm up.
After this "dynamic warm up" you should then stop and stretch your major muscles, holding each for 10-15 seconds.
Then, after your run session, you will perform the same stretches once again, but this time, hold each stretch for 30-60 seconds. Your muscles are now primed and better prepared to be stretched.
I personally do not believe the pre-stretch is essential to a marathoner or half marathoner unless we are doing a hard run speed session or short race. If you can devote the time to it, excellent. If you can only stretch once, start your workout at an easy pace for at least 5 minutes to loosen up, and then stretch after the workout. Devoting just a few minutes after each workout can improve your performances and help keep you injury-free for years to come.