stretching may be harmful

Stretching is actually the third leading cause of injury to runners. If you like to stretch for other reasons, or you have a medical problem that requires stretching, then stretch as needed. But don't expect stretching to prevent injuries or help you warm up for a recreational run or distance race.

As opposed to almost all other sports, distance running is best done within your mechanical limits. While stretching is beneficial if you participate in sports that require you to go beyond the normal flexibility boundaries of your body, it can leave runners with more aches, pains and injuries than they receive from their running.

If you like to stretch, the best time is in the evening, say, just before bedtime. You want to be relaxed, and not rush through a stretch routine.

Those who stretch immediately before running, immediately afterward, or during, have a higher rate of injury than do those who don't stretch at all.
What do you think ?


  • I never stretch before I run. Most of the time I ease into the run slowly and then do a few half hearted stretches after the run, mainly calves, hamstring and thighs, then 'shake myself out' a few times and grab a shower or bath. Sometimes if my claves feel a bit tight I stop to stretch them, but otherwise I don't really bother. I used to feel incredibly guilty about this, but I got over it when a fellow runner said you can do more damage than good stretching.
    I swim once a week aswell and I find this gives me a good stretch just reaching through the water. I have also got a yoga video, but its a bit naff.

  • Totaly agree with you pedalpusher.
    The act of running will stretch my muscles to do the act of running. I always warm up for 15 minutes and if I'm doing a speed session I'll build up to it slowly. After running I'll jog fo 15 minutes and then walk for a further 15 minutes. Even after that I'll try and stay on my feet for a further hour to allow my muscles to relax slowly.
  • Can you point me to the evidence that stretching after a run causes injury?

    I know there was a recent study that questioned the value of stretching pre-exercise - although there have been people who have argued the same thing for years. I am unaware of the evidence against stretching after a run - not saying it doesn't exist but I'd be interested in reading it.
  • Number of sources bur the best one is this Url,

    as a expert Jeff Galloway is worth reading
  • Thanks PP he says this:

    "After running?
    Stretching right after running is also a risky proposition. The muscles don't simply stop all activity when you stop running. They are still "revved up" and ready to respond for about 30 minutes; stretching may cause them to spasm. When they are working hard like this, a stretch often activates the stretch reflex - leaving you tighter than before. "

    Not sure how "revved up" my muscles are after a run! No I can see the argument he is making but I would like to hear the science behind it or read the results of a study. Just from personal experience I have found stretching after exercise the best way because the muscles are already warmed up - so it saves having to warm up later in the day to stretch - which is what this Jeff Galloway recommends. I would generally spend 5 minutes or so recovering before stretching and haven't noticed the muscles going into spasm.

  • I saw an orthopedic sugen at Bishops Wood hospital last week who told me
    "recent research from Australia shows stretching to cause more problems than it sloves in runners. So for now don't stretch."
    His name is Graham Belham, I'm sure if you drop him a line @
    Bishpos Wood Hospital
    Harefield Road

    He would tell you where to find this "recent research". Or call him on 01923 835814

    Good luck!
  • I have never stretched except in classes where you look a right twat if you don't, certainly in swiiming stretching is OUT
  • I think the Australian research might be this:

    A lot of this is about muscle soreness which is neither here nor there - if you train regularly I don't think muscle soreness is much of an issue. It does address injury but I don't think it is conclusive. For a start it is talking about "healthy young adults" whereas intuitively stretching would seem to offer more benefits in keeping active as we get older. For example I was reading a book which linked ageing/flexibility and reduced stride length in runners recently.

    Personally I think it depends on what and when you are stretching. A certain amount of flexibility is essential in any sport (and in everyday life). Stretching plays a part in maintaining flexibility. It's long been argued that stretching pre-exercise can cause a temporary contraction in the muscles and that this might cause an immediate risk of injury. However I don't accept that flexibility can't play a role in injury prevention - because common sense tells you that in many situations it can. My take is that flexibility is generally a good thing and that stretching helps maintain flexibility.
  • I have a feeling, given the apparent disparity of opinion about stretching, that it may be good for some people to stretch post-run and not so good for others. I suspect that, if certain people ARE more 'suited' to stretching or not stretching, this would explain the often polarised views on the subject.

    Speaking personally, pre-run I don't see the point in static stretches - the dynamic stretching of starting slow is all most people including me need. However, after runs I have consistently found gentle to moderate stretching to be beneficial *to me* (also, when I was a gymnast, stretching without a doubt helped increase my and my teammates' flexibility). Whether it would be beneficial to others isn't for me to say - I know one or two people for whom stretching is almost tantamount to shouting "HEY! INJURE ME PLEASE!" ;)
  • I think that stretching your muscles, especially back muscles is good for all of us. But I don't nescessarily think that it needs to be done pre/post running. I think that walking as a warm up and cool down is probably best, and as someone said, generally staying on your feet after a long run.

    But I would then advocate having a yoga session or core strengthening session at least once per week, otherwise you can experience muscular tightness in areas that don't get a good stretch with running.

    This is my opinion based on experience (limited) and some medical knowledge, not research based!
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