"Putting Evidence Back Into
Running Injury and Performance"
Post Run Stretching – Try Some HELP.
There is a lot of information out there for runners regarding what we should and shouldn’t do in our warm up, and as you can see in our ‘Runchatlive Runners Guide To Warm Up‘, a lot of it is not supported by evidence. When it comes to what we should do after our run, the evidence becomes even thinner!
We all obviously want to reduce next day soreness and recover as best as possible before our next run, so should we be stretching? Would foam rolling help? Is there anything else we could be doing?
Static Stretch Post Run
Many runners perform static stretching after a run in the belief that it will:
- reduce the amount of post exercise soreness (DOM’s)
- reduce the risk of future injury
It may come as a surprise to hear that there is actually very little research to support either of these beliefs. Yes, some runners do indeed experience increased post exercises soreness if they fail to stretch after a run but many others are surprised to discover that if they miss out their normal post run static stretching, they actually experience less soreness!
Looking at the physiology, after a fairly demanding run it is very normal for some of the major muscle groups to have micro-tears; it’s normal – it’s how we get stronger. Trying to force these muscles to lengthen by static stretching could lead to more soreness. The whole idea of static stretching increasing the length of a muscle is up for debate anyway, as any increases in range of movement we do see are more likely to be the result of a temporary release permitted by the nervous system.
It is highly likely that post exercise soreness is the product of either failing to warm up properly or simply carrying out a too strenuous training session. By the time you start your post run cool down, there is very little you can do to avoid it.
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For those relatively new to regular running, the notion of introducing maximal effort hill sprints is often met with concern over the possibility of over-training and encouraging injury. And yet, including one or two weekly hill sprint sessions into your training may well be safer than just knocking out long distances on flat ground.
A logical fallacy is something used in discussion / argument / marketing that sounds supportive but is actually based on a misassumption. For example, assuming something /someone must be good because it’s been around for many years is called an ‘appeal to antiquity’. They are worth recognising as soft tissue discussions are full of them.
Some runners swear by it, others say it’s a waste of money. The fact that most elite runners have regular massage suggests there must be something in it, but how valuable a tool is it for recreational runners? Is there any evidence it reduces injury or increases performance? Let’s take a look…