Static stretching used to be the prescription for every exercise class in every grade. However it’s been shown that stretching muscles before running without dynamic movement is not a great thing. Here’s why you should refrain from performing static stretches before running.
Why you should not static stretch before running
You’re not warmed up yet.
Cold muscles are tight muscles. Warming up your muscles first means you’ll be better able to complete any stretch.
You’re likely to pull a muscle.
Runners are more likely to get a strain in tight, cold muscles, especially if you go too far into a stretch. That’s because cold muscles are more likely to be torn or pulled.
You’ll run slower.
Studies have shown that those who use static stretching before a hard workout are more likely to perform at a lesser level than those who don’t stretch before.
Why you should static stretch after running
You’ll improve your range of motion.
Stretching after you run will help with flexibility. Warm muscles are more pliable, and you’ll find you can reach further than when your muscles are cold. However, be careful that you don’t overstretch.
It will feel great.
Stretching out your hamstrings, quads and hips after a long run can feel amazing. You will immediately feel a sense of relief and get that “ahhh” moment.
If you want to warm up before you run, consider walking for 5-10 minutes. Better yet, perform dynamic stretching exercises, which involve movements that better help prepare your joints and muscles for your upcoming workout. Examples of dynamic stretches include leg swings, lunges, high kicks, knee to chest, butt kicks and more. You can also use a foam roller before you hit the pavement.
There’s still controversy about whether runners need to stretch at all—before or after a run. So do your research and do what feels right to you.