Friday, June 19, 2009

When Should I Stretch?

I was watching a TV show on ESPN last week and they were interviewing a professional runner. The interviewer asked him if he stretches before he starts running and to my surprise he said no. He told her that we should never stretch cold muscles. He stated that we should either walk or jog first to warm up the muscles, then we can stretch, and after that start running or begin our workout routine. What he said made so much sense to me since it would be very easy to pull or tear the muscles if they are not warmed up first.
Here are some smart stretching tips I found from

- Do not bounce – bouncing could also result in a torn or pulled muscle. Instead, hold each stretch for 30 – 40 seconds. In doing this, you may note that the muscle begins to relax and you can go further into the stretch. It is important, however, not "over-stretch" to the point where you feel muscle resistance or pain.

- If you feel discomfort or pain, stop. – If you stretch to the point of feeling pain, you could be hurting your muscle and be causing an injury that will keep you from running.

- Do stretch slowly – Move into all stretches in a slow and controlled manner. If you stretch too quickly, the muscle will contract and you will find yourself to be unable to relax the muscle and increase flexibility.

- Do stretch, but do not stretch too much – Remember to stretch, but do not forget that your reason for stretching is to get on the road or trail for your run! Runners need to stretch, but do not let this part of your workout become your entire workout.

Stretching is important, but proper technique is key!

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