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Skip Pre-Run Stretch For Better Performance

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Skip Pre-Run Stretch For Better Performance

Does a pre-run stretch hinder the performance of long distance runners?

In contrast to what most people were taught during physical education, the oh-so important pre-exercise stretch may actually be counterproductive for athletes training long distance running, according to a small new study conducted by a team of researchers from the University of Tampa.

The new study, which evaluated 10 men with an average age of 25, found that those who chose to stretch before a run did not perform as well.

no benfits from pre run stretch Skip Pre Run Stretch For Better Performance

Pre-Run Stretch May Hinder Performance

However the research team did agree that stretching after a run still provides some benefit. Jacob M. Wilson, PhD, assistant professor of exercise science and sport studies at the University of Tampa, said:

Overall, I don’t think its worth it to stretch before a run. After a run, if someone is trying to work on flexibility, thats fine.[WebMD.com].

Although the study was only carried out on a small group of males who ran long distance, Wilson is confident that similar results would be found for females and recreational runners.

In the study, all the participants were asked to run for 60 minutes on a treadmill on two different days, a week apart. One time they preformed static stretches for 16 minutes prior to the run, the other time they did not.

After a 30 minute warm up, the participants were asked to run for 30 minute as far as they could. The distance and speed dials were also covered so the runners did not know how fast, or far they had ran.

Without stretching, the runners averaged 3.7 miles (6 kilometers) in the half-hour performance run, with stretching; they averaged 3.6 miles (5.8 km) – a difference of 3.4%.

Wilson explained that this could be due to small tears in the muscle tissue caused by stretching:

One of the reasons why stretching impairs performance is it probably causes muscle damage,[WedMD.com].

Previous studies which looked at the effects of stretching before sprinting or perform a vertical jumping also showed a decline in performance 95% of the time.

Ryan Lamppa, a runner, trainer and spokesman for Running USA, said that the choice to stretch is more of an individual choice:

I know runners of all abilities. Some stretch on a regular basis and some dont. Many, like me, stretch after a run, when the muscles are warm and supple…

This study reinforces what Ive heard in the sport at the top end: You dont see a cheetah stretch before the cat goes after [its] prey.[WebMD]

Although there is no evidence that suggests a pre-run stretch reduces risk of injury, experts and athletes agree that it’s still important to warm up before exercising.


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