Stretching Before A Run

When I was growing up, I was always told to make sure I stretch before a workout. Whether I was jetting off to a soccer game, cheerleading practice or a softball tournament, my coaches always made me stretch beforehand. Some made me spend a lot of time stretching (at least 15 minutes) while others just wanted me to spend one or two minutes on it to loosen up my limbs.

Broomball game in soccer sweats.

These days I’m told not to stretch at all. Quite the 180, huh?  Studies now show that stretching beforehand can actually hinder your performance, and a warm-up is a better idea. So which is it?

Personally, it depends on what type of activity I’m doing. When it comes to sports, I almost never stretch before. If I have some spare time I’ll give a quick pull on my quads, but I’m more focused on a light warm-up. But when I go for a run, I always stretch. Only for a few minutes, but I give special attention to my quads, calves and hamstrings. I’ve tried running twice without any stretching and couldn’t get it out of my head that I would’ve done better if I had taken the time to stretch.

So is it all mental?

I think at least a portion of it is. Running is a mentally driven sport. Most of the time, if you can get past your mental barriers, you’ll move a lot farther and faster than you thought possible.

This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t stretch at all though.

Basically, the debate is about whether you should stretch before and after your workout. Either way, you must stretch after if you want to prevent injury and reach your maximum performance level. Your muscles need it. Don’t believe me? Take a beginner yoga class and your body will worship you afterward. It happens to me every time.

So which works better for you? Do you stretch before or after your workouts? Have you tried not stretching before a run? How did it feel? I really want to know! 

In other news, my back is feeling better today. I laced up the sneaks and went for a three-mile run this morning. I took it easy, but my form was much better and my legs felt stronger. I came home a hot sweaty mess.

Gotta love shiny, sweaty skin.

In case you were wondering, my top is an Adidas sleeveless top with CLIMALITE technology. I don’t know the specific name, but if I figure it out I’ll be sure to update you! This top is another one of my faves because of its lightweight fabric and breathability. It doesn’t cling to my skin when I run, but it hugs all the right curves to give a flattering look.

After my run, I settled in for a big bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios with one percent low-fat milk and half of a banana. I ate the other half of the banana immediately.

Honey nut is better than regular.

Here’s a random tidbit about me: I can’t eat the ends of a banana, or any brown spots. I just can’t do it. I always tear off the very ends of a banana and toss ’em, and if there are any brown spots, I won’t eat that section. Am I the only one out there who does this?

It should also be noted that this is the first time in a really long time that I’ve eaten breakfast after a run. Post about that to come soon because I think this is something that is very individual and I would love to get your ideas on the subject!

Now I’m off to start reading Once A Runner by John L. Parker, Jr. I’m told this piece of fiction is basically worshipped among those in the running community, so I’m excited to dig in!

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Posted on May 31, 2011, in Books, Exercise, Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.

  1. I like to stretch after working out. I heard the same thing about the pre-workout stretching. Apparently cold muscles before exercise can be strained too easily? This is kind of dumb, but I always have the mental image of my limbs and muscles as hard, uncooked noodles before a workout. And stretchy, flexible noodles after a good boil (a run). LOL.

    Also, I never eat the bananus — that ugly brown butt at the bottom of a peeled banana. Yuck.

    Also, sexyyyy top.

    • Yeah, I always try to go through a thorough stretch after a workout, but idk, I have to spend a few minutes before I run too. It’s my version of a warm-up, I suppose.

      And I had a feeling you would like that top 😉

  2. I’ve always been told to stretch, but honestly, I never do because a) I just forget and b) I don’t feel like taking the time lol. The only time I will make the effort to stretch is if my muscles are sore from the workout the day before and I think I’ll feel better if I do stretch them out. It hasn’t really made a difference after I work out whether or not I stretch. Good thoughts Sam!

  3. I unfortunately tend to forget to stretch before a run quite often. I need to get back in the habit, though, because I’ve suffered through a ton of aches and pains that I surely didn’t need!

  4. I just came across your blog and you have two topics that just relate to me perfectly!! ha
    1. I despise the ends of bananas… even if they’re fresh. They creep me out.
    2. Stretching before a workout is actually bad for you – its like trying to stretch rubber if its cold, it might snap – but I always stretch afterwards, when my muscles are all warmed up.

    Can’t wait to read more from you 🙂

    • Haha I’m the same exact way with bananas! No matter what, I just can’t do it. I don’t know why, but I can’t. I’ve also recently discovered that apparently I open bananas weird. I don’t “peel” them from the top. I push on the stem and the peel “pops” open. Am I the only one here? Probably.

      Thanks for reading! 🙂

  5. I have a theory that my legs have more spring to them if I don’t stretch before a run. It could be a load of crap, but that is what I usually stick to and it hasn’t hurt me yet. KNOCK ON WOOD.

    I’m intrigued by your book selection. Please let me know how it is!

  6. I kind of agree with your theory. I think that’s why I don’t really stretch that much. I have to take a minute to just move around and give my calves, quads and hamstrings a bit of attention, but it’s not anything major (like I said in my post, that part is probably all mental).

    The book so far is great! I’ll put up a review once I’m finished!

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