Advice Please :Warm up, stretch, cool down


I have just started running regularly and have no real regime for stretching. I walk for 5 mins before my run and after my run. I then stretch my legs a bit before jumping into the shower.

Could someone please give me advice on what stretches to do and how to warm up and cool down?

Much appreciated,


  • Tim

    As to warm up/down, I would say a light 5-10min jog before and afer your session should be sufficient.

    There must be some articles on this site re stretching. There are differing views as to whether stretching before running is beneficial. Personally I don't but I always stretch afterwards.

    Hope that helps for starters.

  • Hill-Reps,

    Thanks dude.

    Ok, before a long run or a recovery run (both slow pace), I reckon a 5 min walk is enough to get the blood flowing a bit faster. Then another 5-10 min walk at the end to wind down and then some stretching.

    For harder sessions, I'll take up your advice on the 5-10 min jog.

    I can't find too much on stretching on this website. I'll have another look.

  • I jog for a couple of minutes before a reun then stretch (not always, depends whether I feel I need it). I stretch quite gently and concentrate on any areas that I'm currently worried about (right Iliotibial band at the moment, but often calves). My basic pre-run set is:

    Then when I've finished the run I do the same stretches but for longer (try and hold each for 30s). Plus I also throw in some upper body stretches because othewise I seem to get sore shoulders.


  • There have been some good RW articles on stretching, back at the beginning of the year if memory serves.
    Dynamic stretching should be done before serious exercise - thats jogging and strides to us runners and, as millipede recommends, static stretching after. The 'hold for 30s' is important.
  • The American site has some good stretching exercises on it.
    Go to:- - Injury Prevention
    - Stretching

  • A recent study (I think by the Australian Institute of Sport) stated that there were no statistical differences between those who did stretch and picked up injuries and those who didn't.

    Personally I jog before and after and also do a short leg stretch routine afterwards which covers all the major leg muscles.
  • Controversial subject. Personally recommend stretch every day using much of the advice above. Jaguars stretch - good enough for me.
  • Gaz.Gaz. ✭✭✭
    Look under Health then ,
    Complete guide to stretching,
    I stretch after running, it works for me
  • Hi Tim, personally I do not warm up at all, and that includes stretching, sometimes after a run I will stretch a bit but not very often, I will never ever go and jog for 1/2 a mile or so before a race, what a waste of energy!

  • Stretching after exercise may or may not affect the likelihood of contracting an injury, but it will almost certainly help with soreness in the day or two after. This is because holding that stretch for 30s allows the body to get to work on getting rid of all that nasty lactate and so on from your muscles. I've noticed a definite improvement in day-after soreness with the correct stretching routine. :)
  • I would say that calf stretching may be the best stretches to perform, if you bother at all, these are the muscles that may suffer most from runs
  • Psi, I thought that it was pretty much certain that muscle soreness was nothing to do with lactic

    Also no need to cool down anymore!

  • RedheadRedhead ✭✭✭
    Hi Tim, I tried stretching before and after running, just before and just after and have finaly settled on just after because the muscles are nice and warm. I've found this means I don't get as stiff the next day. If I'm going to the gym I will warm up on the bike and then a 10 minute walk, but if I'm running on the road I just go out of the door and start running! Haven't had any problems with this.

    Definitely agree with NattyNoodle about jogging beforehand - way too tiring for me! Having said that, at some of the larger races they have aerobic warm-up sessions beforehand and I always enjoy them.

    I think, basically, you just have to experiment and find what's right for you.
  • I was a dedicated before and after, then read an article about a trial done on marines or soldiers where the ones who did not stretch before got less injuries that thosewho did, (can't remember if they warmed up first) also that the after stretchers had no difference in injury rate.

    In the early days of running I spent more time religously warming up stretching, cooling down and stretching than I did running! - by far!

    I have to confess I never stretch at all now, but I do walk after every run. I run so slow, that I don't see the point of jogging for 5 or 10 mins before a race run at the same pace! the first 5-10 mins IS the warm up!

    Seriously though, I can't see the difference, I had a lot of minor calf injuries to begin with, which I now know were from taking the advice of my 10 years younger fit stepson to run as fast as I can for the last minute of every run! - Might be fine for a 10 mile a day Marine, but not for an elderly beginner!!

    I totally agree with finding what's best for you, and I just can't be bothered!! I'm pretty flexible always have been, despite my maturity, and I will be the first to let you all know if I get an injury, just so you can say We told you so!!

    (I also wonder how many stretchers really do the job properly,I've certainly seen a lot of 2 second half-hearted efforts at the gym!)

  • Retention of lactate is a myth, stiffness is minute tears, stretching does not help people just like to believe it does and coaches fear stopping it due to litigation secret is to warm up and increase exertion slowly, people injure themselves every day stretching.
  • Hi guys,

    Thanks for all the interesting replies.

    I think that warming up slightly is always a good idea, just to get the heart working a bit and to warn it that it's about to do some work.

    Stretching afterwards is also good, even just for general flexibility reasons.

    Cooling down is also a good idea as our hearts shouldn't just be allowed to go from intense working conditions to rest.

    Thanks again,
  • Sorry, don't know why on earth I put that about lactate in the previous reply - I know full well that lactate retention does not usually extend over a period of days!

    However, I stand by the benefits of stretching. The armed forces - who have no products or training methods to sell and who have interest only in their members' physical fitness - still mandate light pre-exercise stretching, after a sufficient warm-up (although not for running as starting slow is considered to be sufficient to dynamically stretch the muscles). The thing is that you have to warm up first and you have to take it EASY on the stretches.

    More significantly however, slightly more thorough post-exercise stretching is also doctrine. I have definitely found that moderate stretching after intense exercise has improved my recovery from said exercise, specially on long x-country marches / runs at work which are the most intense form of physical exercise I've ever done (far more so than any road running).

    Plus, of course, stretching can prevent many common running injuries such as ITBS/'Runners' Knee' by increasing the flexibility of the muscles and tendons concerned. The secret is not to overdo it - people often overdo it, stretch too hard and cause themselves injury, and then complain that static stretches cause injury!

    The reason I post this long pro-stretching post is that I used to be a gymnast and knew then, as now, that a stretching programme is the only way to become more flexible (coupled with appropriate training of course). And flexibility, even if that was the only benefit of stretching, is something all runners could use more of.
  • I read recently that flexibility is inborn and that no matter how much stretching one practices the difference in flexibility is very small I speak as the very inflexible mother of a gymnast.
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