Not all runners agree on when the best time is for stretching, with some believing that it is good to stretch before a run and after the warm-up while others prefer to stretch after the run and skip their pre-run stretch.
However, the right time to stretch will depend on your body, it is important to understand that when improperly done, running can cause rather than prevent injury.
However, a correct stretching technique can increase range of motion and help decrease the likelihood of injury. Here are some guidelines that will help you stretch more effectively:
Don’t bounce. Although most people don’t do this anymore, some people still feel the need to bounce when stretching. This is improper form and can lead to injury. Instead, hold your position.
It shouldn’t hurt. Stretching shouldn’t be painful. A good stretch should feel good, not hurt. Hold the stretch at a comfortable level for your body.
Listen to what your body is trying to say. Pain is not a good thing.
Hold for a while. Most people do not hold their stretches for long enough. If you break the stretch too soon, you will benefit from a good stretch. Instead, hold each stretch for at least twenty seconds.
Remember to breathe. A lot of people hold their breath when they stretch. Breathe slowly through the nose and exhale slowly through the mouth. Breathing properly with slow breaths will help you relax and cause you to get deeper into the stretch.
It is a good idea to have someone show you how to stretch properly. Sometimes, a good stretching technique cannot be described or obtained from a book or magazine. Remember that stretching can boost performance and increase your range of motion, but only if you do it properly.
Here is a list of the muscle groups you should stretch:
Everyone has their favourite stretches. Try several out until you discover the stretches that work best for you. It is also helpful to perform some basic stretches throughout the day to help increase flexibility.