Solving The Injury-Prevention Puzzle

First Piece: Targeted Stretching

Much has been made of recent research demonstrating that routine stretching does not prevent overuse injuries in endurance runners. While it may be true that a general stretching routine does not prevent injuries in general, any physical therapist worth her salt will tell you that certain specific injuries are caused in part by abnormal tightness in particular muscles and tendons, and that targeted stretches for these problem areas are effective in rehabilitating and preventing recurrence of these injuries.

A physical therapist whom I saw for hip flexor tendonitis discovered that my hip flexors were indeed abnormally tight and prescribed a pair of stretches to correct the problem, and they did in fact correct the problem. Every day I perform these two stretches plus just two additional stretches for a couple of other problem areas (my iliotibial bands and my calves and Achilles tendons), and that’s it. Stretching everything is a little like trying to true a wheel by loosening the spokes on both sides. Stretch only what’s too tight and you’ll see better results.

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