Pre-run stretching proves ineffective, research shows

Research shows stretching before a run isn’t as necessary as people believe it to be. However, UNA runners insist it reduces their risk of injury.

A recent study conducted by George Washington University showed pre-run stretching isn’t all that necessary when working out. Scientists found little to no difference in those runners who stretched and those who did not stretch.

The university, along with the USA Track and Field Association, looked at 2,700 runners who run at least 10 miles a week. Scientists compared the runners over a three-month period of time. They found similar injury rates in the runners who stretched and the ones who didn’t.

Glenda Richey, Fitness Coordinator at UNA’s Student Recreation Center disagrees with the study, and stressed the importance of stretching.

“You have to warm your muscles up,” Richey said. “Pre-exercise stretching is more important than post-exercise stretching.

“To jump off the couch and go run is dangerous and you’re going to get hurt.”

According to Richey, there are two kinds of stretching. Static stretching is a stretch that is held, and ballistic stretching is a stretch that is dynamic or bounced.

Richey said that stretching is very sport-specific and students should stretch according to the sport or activity they are participating in.

“Pre-exercise static stretching is old-school,” Richey said. “I think static stretching can cause more injury.”

Richey suggests that if someone is utilizing static stretches, they should slowly transition to ballistic stretches.

“The muscle is just like a rubber band, and you have to warm it up before you exercise,” Richey added.

Walking and jogging are a stretch according to Richey. She said that people forget these warm-ups can count as their stretch. Richey suggested students remember to warm up according to their surrounding temperature. Colder temperatures need more warm-up times compared to hotter temperatures, which need less time warming up.

“It makes me nervous for students’ muscles,” Richey urged. “You have to warm your muscles to the necessary amount.”

UNA senior Traci Hite says she has to stretch before her run. Hite runs four to five days a week. Hite, a former cross-country athlete, has had her fair share of running experiences.

“I stretch and warm up and stretch a little more, because it’s very important to me to have a proper warm up before any type of exercise, especially running,” Hite said.

Hite swears by her stretching, saying it is the only way she can work out without pain and injury. She admits that her friends are not so diligent as she is.

“I have had some friends that have not stretched properly before running, and they have pulled muscle,” Hite said. “They could not exercise for several weeks after that.”