Some studies say you don’t need to bother and others fight against that by showing how stretches after running improve your stride and prevent injuries. So what should you do??
With the jury out on it, here’s what I believe as a running coach about stretching:
- Preventing loss of range of motion
- Improving range of motion after an injury
- If it feels good, make time for it (I love how I feel after 10 minutes on the floor in the evening)
- It’s a time to force runners to slow down
- We know that tight hips mean you can’t take a full stride
- We know that tightness in your IT Band could pull on your knee causing pain
- We know that tight calves can create issues in your knees, ankles and Achilles
Alex Hutchenson has done a thorough job of why you don’t need to stretch…though he admits, he still does because it feels good. Anecdotally, I’ve just seen so many runners that we coach reduce or recover from hip and knee injuries from incorporating it that I still think stretching and more importantly mobility exercises are worth it.
Maintaining Flexibility is Massively Important As We Age
While researching things that runners over 40, ok really they were mostly 70+ did to keep going strong when most would say they should be home knitting, it turns out flexibility was HUGE. After every workout, they spent some time stretching and most swore by it for helping them to continue going injury free for so many years.
This makes sense because as we age we do lose flexibility and even prior to that we spend so much time in sedentary positions that our muscles become tight, which impacts our entire run. Tell me you haven’t had the experience of finishing a run and then hopping in your car to drive home. You start to get out of the car and feel like you’ve aged 30 years during the drive! That’s the lack of stretching once you finished.
Best Stretches for After Running
While I list this as post run, the truth is I don’t usually do them immediately after a run. These running stretches part of my evening routine which helps me to unwind or what I do after I finish a strength training session to keep listening to podcast I haven’t finished.