Wednesday, June 11, 2014

How Do You...Stretch Pre- and Post-Run?

Anonymous asked:

How do you stretch pre- and post-run? Are there specific exercises you do, for a certain length of time, etc.?

This is an appropriate question for this week because I'm preparing to run another 5K race on Saturday.  After running a half-marathon in April, there was serious let down in the days and weeks following.  I was floundering and in need of a new goal so I decided to squeeze in a 5K before the intense heat of summer sets in. I'm hoping I've maintained enough of the fitness I built up to run the half and that it will propel me into a new personal record for the 5K distance.  

As far as stretching goes, I probably earn a big fat F for fail.  I've read that it is damaging to stretch cold muscles.  If muscles have not started to move and warm up, stretching them can do more harm that good so instead of stretching before I hit the pavement, I warm up by starting most runs at a gentle, slow pace.  I pay attention to how my legs feel and gradually increase the pace as I loosen up.  

Okay.  So maybe my warm-up routine is acceptable, but I really fail the post-run stretching test.  By the time I'm done a run, my muscles are warm and would benefit from stretching, but I rarely (read: once or twice ever) take time to do any type of stretching routine.  This is what I do instead.  When I stop running and slow to a walk, I do not stop moving for at least 10 minutes.  I walk up my driveway.  I walk a few laps around the deck.  I walk around inside the house while I find a snack, talk to the kids, start a load of laundry.  Even more importantly, I am careful not to sit down.  Sitting or ceasing movement too quickly after exercise can cause blood to pool in the legs and cause cramping and general discomfort.  

How do you stay active? Do you walk, run, work out at the gym, play a sport, or run and play with your kids? 

My How Do You...? series is back for a few more weeks.  Is there anything you want to know? If you have any other running related questions, I'd love to talk more about it!  Leave a comment here or on my Facebook page or send me an e-mail.  I'd love to hear from you.

In the meantime, you can browse the archived index of past topics.


  1. I don't run so I can only comment as a walker. I, too, would earn an F for stretching. As a result, I am less limber than I ought to be and have a lot of soreness. Enjoy your 5K this weekend! The fastest runner for my last 5K was 18 minutes, 50-odd seconds. He could've gone home, showered, and returned before the last person crossed the finish line ;-)

    1. I am amazed at people who can run that fast! At a 5K I ran last fall, there was a guy who won his age group and he said it was his 3rd 5K he'd run that same day!!!

  2. Thank you for this info! I started running in March, and am working up to my first 5k. I may wait until the fall though, when it cools back down (we're in TX, and it gets quite warm early). Have a great 5K this weekend!

  3. Fall is a wonderful time to run! After the summer heat (and humidity here), fall temps feel glorious. When I started running, it was end of September and I didn't run my first 5K until the following April. I loved having lots of time to prepare and build my confidence.

  4. I've been enjoying a walking DVD. I also don't stretch pre-exercise, but there is a short warm up before the actual walk begins. Thankfully, there is also a brief stretching routine at the end of each walk. I'm fairly certain I wouldn't stretch on my own without it.


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