We’re typically informed to stretch after a run to scale back the danger of soreness afterwards. But we could also be doing ourselves extra hurt than good. Running Injury & Performance Specialist Matt Phillips explains.
Most runners now realise that there’s little level to performing static stretches earlier than a run, i.e. holding a calf or hamstring stretch for 20 seconds or so. Research confirms widespread sense; some sort of dynamic motion like some leg swings or lunges is extra more likely to put together you for the calls for of operating than standing on the spot with one leg up on a wall. But what about after our run? That’s once we ought to be dedicating 5 minutes or so to static stretching, no? It seems perhaps not…
Why do runners stretch after a run?
There is a standard perception that stretching submit run will assist ‘return muscles to their normal length’ and in doing so scale back soreness over the subsequent few days (generally known as DOMS, delayed onset of muscle soreness) and most significantly scale back the danger of an damage. There is definitely little or no analysis that helps both of those beliefs. Let’s take a look at every in flip.
Post run soreness
Although it’s true that some runners really feel they expertise extra muscle soreness in the event that they fail to stretch, others are stunned to find that in the event that they skip it, they’re truly much less sore. The purpose for this may increasingly lie within the physiology. After a demanding run, it’s regular for muscle tissue which were labored exhausting to have micro-tears in them. It is the therapeutic of those micro tears that’s thought to truly make us stronger and capable of carry out higher subsequent time, therefore the significance of enough restoration. Trying to forcefully stretch a muscle with these micro-tears might probably improve the dimensions of the tear and result in extra soreness.
How are you able to keep away from post-run soreness?
The more than likely purpose for submit run soreness is that you’ve pushed your physique more durable than it was ready to work at. By the time you get to the finish of your run, how sore you’ll really feel has already been determined. Soreness after a tough session ought to actually be anticipated, as that’s the way you get quicker and stronger, however in case you are sore the entire time then you could properly want to try your training plan. You might nicely additionally profit from an extended dynamic heat up earlier than your run to scale back the shock issue of instantly launching into what is actually 1600+ hops a mile.
Reducing damage danger
The different purpose that runners sometimes stretch post-run is the assumption that being versatile is a means of decreasing damage danger. This is sensible in case you are speaking concerning the vary of motion required to run and making an attempt to pressure the muscle tissue right into a size that we’ll by no means really need or use, whereas operating doesn’t do that. The diploma of hip extension (leg reaching again beneath your physique) wanted for operating is definitely concerning the similar as that of strolling (10-15˚). Running merely doesn’t require the identical degree of flexibility as a dancer or martial artist. Stop and assume for a second…. why as a runner do you are feeling the necessity to have the ability to contact your toes? When will you ever want that quantity of flexibility in your hamstrings?
Let’s use Paula Radcliffe for instance. In 2003, she set a brand new ladies’s world marathon report time of two:15:25. As a part of her training, Paula truly decreased her hamstring flexibility by 4cm. This lower was most likely a by-product of a specialised weight-training programme that noticed Paula’s most vertical leap improve by 10cm, producing the highly effective stride and heightened effectivity that noticed her set a brand new world report. One research of collegiate runners revealed within the Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research in 2009 (Trehearn TL1, Buresh RJ) has since proven that those that have been 20cm much less versatile throughout a sit-and-reach check ran 27 per cent extra effectively with elite athletes having much less flexibility than runners who they beat.
Strengthening not stretching
During operating, muscular tissues and tendons act like springs. When you land, they take up and retailer power from the bottom after which use it to propel you forwards (known as the Stretch-Shortening Cycle). Imagine a spring that’s unfastened with little or no pressure: on impression with the bottom it will take in and launch very little power. However, image now a spring that’s stiff and tense: it is going to retailer far more power on impression and in doing so launch extra power for every stride. It is strengthening work that helped Paula obtain greatness, not stretching.
In 2004, a evaluate by Thacker et al. (Impact of Stretching on Sports Injury Risk) concluded that stretching was not considerably related to a discount in complete accidents. A 2010 research following almost 3000 runners over three months confirmed that danger of damage was the identical (16 per cent) no matter whether or not the runners had finished a specified pre-run stretching routine or not. Faced with such knowledge, we actually have to ask ourselves why we really feel the necessity to maintain static stretches after a run. If it’s simply to loosen up and really feel higher, then nice, but when we consider that it’ll considerably scale back soreness, forestall damage or enhance efficiency then we have to assume once more. As for what we ought to be doing after a run? We’ll depart that for an additional article….
Matt Phillips is a Running Injury & Performance Specialist at StrideUK and hosts the podcast RunchatLive. Visit his web site at www.runchatlive.com