Stretching. When, How much, What kind ?

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This topic contains 6 replies, has 5 voices, and was last updated by  r-at-work 12 years, 8 months ago.

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  • #5246

    I have just finished my first marathon in many years and followed a training program from runners world. During the training I did little or no stretching before or after my runs. My warm ups consisted of an easy pace the first 1- 1 1/2 mi or so depending on the day's workout. Since the marathon I've taken 3 days off, followed by 2 days of 5 mi easy runs, rest, 6 mi, 6mi, rest, 7mi. During my 7 mi run my hamstring  tightened up to the point where I had to back off my pace. The question is should I be doing any particular kinds of stretches that will prevent this type of injury or strain from happening again?

  • #20757


    I do static stretching after nearly all of my runs. After suffering a slight hamstring pull in 2003, I take this stretching very seriously. I know Chris uses a method called active/isolated stretching, which has been gaining in popularity. Maybe, if he sees this, he could comment on it.

    Some people need to stretch all the time, some people need to stretch occasionally, some people can get away with never stretching. How much you need is a very individual thing. Personally, I need to stretch all the time. It sounds like you may be someone who needs at least occasional stretching.

  • #20758


    I see it Ryan!

    I personally do try and use the AI method, but probably don't do it exactly as it's intended to be done.  What you are supposed to do is hold each position for 2 seconds and repeat.  So you only strech each muscle group for approx. 4 seconds total.  The trick is you need to flex the opposite muscle just before going into the stretch as this relaxes the target muscle group. 

    I used to do lots of static stretching.  In my opinion the AI keeps my ligaments / tendons feeling better.  I used to get all sorts of little aches and pains and now nothing.  It works for me and takes me just over 60 seconds to completly stretch after a run. 

    I do almost no stretching before my runs.  Warm-up yes.  I might just lean into a few stretches, but I am a firm believer that a “tight” muscle is a fast muscle.  Loose muscles feel slow / sluggish.  Good warm-up is key though. 

  • #20759


    Something I saw last year, for whatever it may be worth:

    This past Tuesday I opted to take in a clinic on stretching given by highly-regarded local ExPhys guru Andy Pruitt (he is the one that Mark Plaatjes has gone to when he has had problems).  I took notes, which I shall attempt to present in a clear fashion here:

    The four keys to remember are:
    Regular exercise
    Balance – proprioception

    Why stretch and be flexible?:
    Range of motion: gain and/or maintain
    Body awareness – proprioception
    Muscle relaxation

    Stretching cons: stress on joints, excess range of motion (congenital and post trauma)

    What to stretch?:
    Musculotendinous junction
    Tendinous insertion into the bone

    muscle: active, contractile, elastic
    tendon: semi-elastic, small range of elasticity

    An effective method of stretching involves contracting and relaxing of the muscles just prior to the stretch, which allows the muscle to stretch further.

    A recommended method of incorporating stretching into the training routine:
    Gentle static stretch into a slightly ballistic stretch
    Static into PNF (contract/relax) stretch

    Mandatory areas to stretch for running:
    Lower back
    Quads – extensor mechanism & hip flexors
    Calf – achilles

    Stretches to accomplish this:
    High calf: push against wall, heel on ground, drive hips down & forward
    Low calf, soleus: like above, with bent knee, driving knee towards toes
    Quad stretch: pull foot up and back behind with opposite hand
    Hamstrings, lower back: toe touch or lying in doorway with one leg up on the doorjamb at right angle to body and other leg
    Back, upper legs: butterfly stretch – move feet out to vary the stretched areas
    Also: split stretch, one leg behind and one in front, with cushion under lower knee
    Glutes: figure-4, while seated bring one foot and leg up and in front of the body and use hands and arms to pull it upwards, both towards and away from the body
    Also: hurdler stretch, foot of bent leg in against opposite thigh, keep pressure off knee
    Finally: lay stretch, on the floor with arms above head and legs out straight, spend several minutes just stretching out the vertebrae

  • #20760


    wow, GTF, that's very concise & yet comprehensive… my sister who trained as a massage therapist also does AI and loaned me her book, my massage therapist who has taken some AI classes helps me out as well… I stretch a bit after a short warm up, just to check that I'm still functional (not pushing anything to the limit) and more thoroughly after I run, and again right before bed along with my sit-ups & weights (if they are on the agenda for the evening)… for me I have a set of stretches to target my personal issues: hip flexors, ITB, lower back and what I call 'ache de jour' as something else seems to ping every few days…

    I am very spoiled in that I usually get a massage every week on Monday when my therapist can check out what is going on after my weekend long run or if I race… then she can add an extra stretch to loosen up the issue before it becomes a problem… I think that as you age or if you have bio-mechanical issues you can avert injuries with proper stretching… at least it's worked well for me in the past 2-3 years…

  • #20761

    Since I'm just getting back into running question to you who use A/I to stretch, how do flex the opposite muscle just prior to stretching the muscle you want to stretch. Sorry if I sound stupid but this is all new to me.

  • #20762


    I have a chart that I got at a seminar that has the stretches in 'order'… I would suggest google for Active Isolated Stretching and I think the guy who wrote the book my sister loaned me is Mattes… he's also the guy who my therapist took classes with… I have my own 'routine' that I've tweaked over the last two years to answer most of my issues… some days I had a few other things if my body needs something else…

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