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Is Pre-Run Stretching Good Or Bad For You?

  • By Duncan Larkin
  • Published Feb. 20, 2011

Keeping the same routine may be more important.

Once upon a time, runners would gather and conduct organized, pre-run stretching. Was that routine beneficial? According to researchers from George Washington University and the USATF, not necessarily.

They are reporting that pre-run stretching doesn’t appear to reduce injury at all. The study examined 2,700 runners of all abilities and found that injury rates were roughly the same (~16%) regardless of whether or not the athlete stretched beforehand.

Specifically, the study’s leader, Dr. Daniel Perles, instructed half of the people in the study to stretch their quads, hamstrings, and calves for three to five minutes before they ran. The other half were told not to stretch. Not surprisingly, Dr. Perles found that several factors not related to stretching contributed to injury. For example, heavier runners, as well as those who had just suffered an injury, were more prone to hurt themselves.

However, there was one surprise: runners who normally stretch beforehand but didn’t in the study and vice-versa were more inclined to injury.

His overall advice: “If it feels good for you to stretch before you run, then continue if you have the time. But if it doesn’t feel good, and you like to run and then stretch, or not stretch at all, then that’s fine too. I can’t tell anyone there is conclusive evidence that stretching makes a difference in injuries or performance.”

For More: Time

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Duncan Larkin

Duncan Larkin

Duncan Larkin is the news editor at Competitor.com and a freelance journalist who’s been covering the sport of running for over five years. He’s run 2:32 in the marathon and won the Himalayan 100-Mile Stage Race in 2007. His first running book, RUN SIMPLE, was released last July.

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