Question: I run regularly and whenever I run in the park, I see people stretching before they run. I’ve heard some people say to stretch before a run and some that say to stretch after. When is it best to stretch?
Answer: It is very common for people to go through a long stretching routine prior to running or any exercise for that matter. Generally it is not advisable to go through an intense static stretching routine before running. Static stretching would be the type in which you move into a position and hold that for a period of time. What happens is that in the short term, the stretch will reduce the contractile efficiency or the power that you can develop in the legs. This can cause a decrease in performance and sometimes lead to injury. The only time it is advisable to perform this kind of stretching before a workout or run would be if you have a muscle that is excessively tight and you would want to stretch only that muscle.
Before a workout or run, you definitely want to warm up the muscles. There are a few methods of doing so, a fast walk, light jog, various jumping exercises, dynamic stretches are all ways to warm up. Generally it’s bets to warm up for 8-10 minutes prior to exercise.
Flexibility is still very important as it reduces the risk or injury and fixes muscle imbalances. I definitely advise stretching but save it for the end of the workout.