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Stretching: Helps After Run?

by | Injury Q and A

“I have been running for about four months now and am enjoying it a lot. The only thing that worries me is the muscles in my legs are always very sore for a couple of days after running. I stretch a lot before and after my runs but this does not seem to help. Is there anything else I can do?”

– Janice G.

Matt answers…

Many thanks for your question, Janice. The pain you are referring to sounds very much like what is commonly referred to as ‘DOMS’ – Delayed Onset of Muscle Soreness. Many runners believe that this soreness is down to not stretching sufficiently before or after the run but the reality is this may not be quite true.

I will assume that by ‘stretching’ you are referring to the traditional practice of holding a muscle at its maximum length for 20-30 seconds, be it the quads, hamstrings, calves, etc.  Despite the popularity of including such stretches in a warm up, studies suggest that as far as reducing risk of injury goes, static stretching offers no benefit to runners. It may even slightly decrease performance. The general recommendation is to instead include dynamic, movement based exercises in the warm up such as the lunge matrix, leg swings, toe pumps, etc.

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