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 Is Stretching Bad For You?
Submitted by Rickshaw :: Fri Nov 26, 2004 12:02 pm
Conventional wisdom says that a good stretching session before a workout will help prevent injuries. Too bad most studies on the subject don't support that premise. Active.com reviews a recent CDC report that says stretching does not reduce the chance of injury. An earlier study of Honolulu Marathon runners went even further by claiming that stretching before exercise is more likely to cause injury than to prevent it. If you've been feeling guilty about neglecting your stretching routine, this may help.

The studies claim that while stretching does increase flexibility, the increased flexibility is not needed by most athletes. Typical running takes place within the muscles' normal range of motion, while common static stretches can push muscles beyond the normal range. This can increase the risk of a stretching injury, without doing anything to reduce the risk of a running injury. Instead, more injuries would be prevented by better warmups and strength training.



phaedrus


Joined: 26 Nov 2004
Posts: 37

Re: Is Stretching Bad For You? Posted: Mon Dec 06, 2004 10:20 pm 

Maybe we should just do different kinds of stretching, rather than dismiss it totally. Gentle, warmup-type stretching would seem to be better than extreme calf stretching and that kind of thing.

DiaperMan
Guest



Re: Is Stretching Bad For You? Posted: Wed Dec 08, 2004 12:21 pm 

OK, stretching may not help your running or prevent injury. But flexibility is still very important to overall health and fitness.

phaedrus


Joined: 26 Nov 2004
Posts: 37

Re: Is Stretching Bad For You? Posted: Wed Dec 08, 2004 3:53 pm 

Do you think so? I guess that was the point the original article was making, that flexibility is not really important unless you are a gymnast or a ballet dancer. Do you think being more flexible helps you to run faster or farther, or contributes in some other way?

makscooter


Joined: 08 Dec 2004
Posts: 1

Re: Is Stretching Bad For You? Posted: Wed Dec 08, 2004 4:56 pm 

Lydiard thinks it's a waste of time; so is weight lifting (for the upper bod). The idea is to sculpt powerful, sinewy legs that are for long distance running, NOT supple, flexible ballerina legs. Picture an ostriche's powerful legs; do you see power or do you want flexibility?

I do stretch after a run and do a light massage on my legs. I also get my son to walk all over my back, buttocks and thighs. But, in general, I'm not high on stretching. It keeps people busy though before a race! Ideally, for me, I'd like a gurney to transport me to the starting line right before start time, and pick me up right at the finish line (for marathons). :)


DiaperMan


Joined: 08 Dec 2004
Posts: 2

Re: Is Stretching Bad For You? Posted: Wed Dec 08, 2004 7:29 pm 

Nope. I don't think stretching does a thing for my running. But it does make me feel better. Since I've been stretching (past two years) I find I am more limber and flexible overall. I really have noticed no benefits to my running. But there is more to stretching thing that running benefits. For me, anyway.

Runner58


Joined: 07 Jan 2005
Posts: 30

Re: Is Stretching Bad For You? Posted: Fri Jan 07, 2005 2:27 am 

Most of these studies are too blunt. Like saying taking asprin isn't shown to help everyone. Well, that doesn't mean asprin cannot help people with headaches!
- Like the stretching study of the Australian army recuits -- most healthy 20 year olds can run a lot before getting any sort of overuse injury whether they stretch or not, so not finding an effect just tells you that stetch may not work for everyone. On the other side, every medical running book/site will tell you that some forms of stretching are essential to speed recovery and reduce reoccurance (e.g. for runner's knee and Achilles problems).


Pretender
Runworks 2005 5M Racer
Kansas, OK
Joined: 14 Dec 2004
Posts: 100

Re: Is Stretching Bad For You? Posted: Fri Jan 07, 2005 8:10 am 

OK, confession: I never stretch. I used to stretch after working out, but never before. I intuitively thought that it was like trying to stretch a cold rubber band (SNAP!). Then I read alot of research on it. Basically as I understand it, if you must stretch it is best to do it at night before bed. Forget that. So anyway, I just don't stretch. I have never had a running injury either <knocking on wood>.

I lift weights, but it isn't a performance thing, it's a looks thing. I don't like being super skinny. Yes I need to lose some more weight (I'm at 200lbs), but I would be pretty lean at 175. I wouldn't want to weigh 150. That's what I weighed coming out of USMC boot camp when I was 17 (just a baby!). Too darn thin. Oh well. Anyway, ixnay on stretching for me.


Rickshaw
Runworks 2005 5M Racer
San Francisco, CA
Joined: 26 Nov 2004
Posts: 1157

Re: Is Stretching Bad For You? Posted: Fri Jan 07, 2005 12:06 pm 

Runner58 wrote:
On the other side, every medical running book/site will tell you that some forms of stretching are essential to speed recovery and reduce reoccurance (e.g. for runner's knee and Achilles problems).

That's true, which is why it was so surprising when the research appeared to disprove the conventional wisdom about stretching. There are a lot of sources that will tell you how important stretching is, but they tend to be based on anecdotal evidence. This stretching study was one of the few detailed looks at the topic that I'm aware of.

Personally, I used to stretch before or after every run. But since a few months ago, I've grown lazy, and now I don't stretch at all. While I'm certainly less flexible as a result, I don't believe it's had any affect on my running. However, I realize that's just one more anecdote of the type that doesn't really prove anything... :-)


OldManRunner
Runworks 2005 5M Racer
Rochester, NY
Joined: 28 Nov 2004
Posts: 262

Re: Is Stretching Bad For You? Posted: Fri Jan 07, 2005 12:29 pm 

Running already takes up so much time, I'll skip it sometimes. I usually do stretch for 4-5 minutes after my runs, though, just because it feels good. And I always stretch my hamstrings and calf (back and front, whatever they're called) muscles before a race or speedwork. I got a nasty hamstring pull one time beginning a session of fast speedwork without stretching, and I'll never do that again. And the fronts of my calves tend to hurt when running at race pace for more than a mile if I don't stretch first.

Bricks
Runworks 2005 5M Racer
Chicago
Joined: 09 Dec 2004
Posts: 222

Re: Is Stretching Bad For You? Posted: Fri Jan 07, 2005 12:39 pm 

As a rule, I never stretch, I just don't strain my muscles enough on a typical training run to risk a pull or a tear. The run itself tends to act as a warm up for me. But I agree, when doing speed work, it is more crucial, but still not necessary if you warm up appropriately I think.

One thing I always do though before a run is rub/massage my IT bands to loosen them up. If they're tight like a stretched rubberband they tend to flare up more than if they're like a loose, floppy rubberband.


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