Stretching - to stretch or not to stretch

I have been told not to stretch cold muscles and not to stretch warm muscles.

I go to a running club twice a week, I go straight from work, we meet, find out what the training is and set off at a slow run to wherever we may be training that.

Some people say the slow run is a warm up and is stretching your muscles, some people stretch at the end of the session once we have run back to base.

When should I be stretching? And what is right and wrong? I do suffer from bad shins time to time so do some shin strengthening exercises at the gym and at home, but I know that stretching will make them better too.

But it seems that everyone has a different opinion so thought I would ask the people who do it day to day


  • I don't know what "official" rights or wrongs are GN but I never stretch before running and never have done - as you say just a jog warm up for a mile or so.  But I do stretch lots afterwards.  I'm pretty certain it helps keep me injury free and flexible.  Short, tight muscles are a receipe for disaster.......  I also do Pilates twice a week for core strength.  Stretching is good - start now and by the time you get to my age you'll thank me and probably save a fortune in physio costs! image

  • The current advice is do not stretch cold muscles.

    I don't know if this will help or not.

  • Thanks both x
  • Funny old thing stretching image.

    Tried it once and was injured by the time i had finished, was out of running for about 3 months so needless to say i dont go near it now!!

    A slow warm up jog does me all the time image

  • Now i am confused, I was advised to stretch and stretch some more whilst recovering from a calf strain as well as resting and applying ice but now I'm wondering if i should image
  • Hi Grivice, i suppose its a case of "Horses for courses"....... If it suits you to stretch then do it, if it causes problems, leave it alone.

    Its going to be one of those things that you find out in time.........  Warm up jogs are great coz its just a small bit of what your going to spend up to 90 minutes doing on a training run !! image 

  • you can over do stretching. you do not want to stretch cold muscles.

    by overdo I mean push the muscle further than it wants to go. If it hurts then you are over doing it, you only need to feel it pull.

     Do the stretch, hold for 10 - 15 secs, back off and repeat. Don't bounce or bob, it should be a firm hold.

    I don't think that a warm up jog goes anywhere near a stretch.

  • In a nutshell, repetitive, strenuous exercise such as running creates micro-tears in muscle tissue. As the tissue heals, it can shorten, causing tightness and shortening range of movement. By stretching afterwards, you are trying to prevent tightening occurring. Bear in mind that many runners stretch at home whilst watching TV and the like - the key is to do it gently. You can stretch from cold without worry, as long as you don't follow it with exercise and do it very gently. Over time you'll improve flexibility, which can potentially decrease injury risk.

    NEVER stretch from cold before exercise. I got a lecture from a physio on this. Not only will the subsequent exercise potentially tear the muscle, but it can tear the neural tissue which connects the muscle. NOT recommended. 

    The best warm up is to enact the exact activity you intend to carry out, but at a far reduced level of exertion, e.g. 5-10 mins brisk walk, 5-10 mins jog - 5-10 mins slow run, go fast intervals!

    edit - I should say that warming up / down is a highly contentious debate. Many will argue with what I've written above, so maybe the best plan is to take what makes sense to you from every side and go with what works for you.

  • I would go with "Is it safe" and the advice given without a doubt !!
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