Should You Stretch Before Running or After? We Finally Solve the Debate

stretch before running

Every runner has their own routine that works for them. Some people only jog at sunrise, others prefer the evening. Some people prefer to run on treadmills, others prefer running on a trail, and still others jog around their neighborhood. 

But one of the biggest debates of the running world is whether you should stretch before running or after. We’re here to settle the debate once and for all. Read on to learn more.

Why Stretch Before Running

Stretching before you go for a run can be important to keep you safe and improve your runs. Dynamic stretching – things like jogging in place and doing butt kickers, high knees, and leg swings – is a good idea. It helps warm up your muscles, increase blood flow, and raise your heart rate and body temperature.

But you do want to make sure you’re doing dynamic stretches before your run, not static. Static stretches, things like bending over to touch your toes, can cause damage to your tissue. They inhibit nerve contraction, which will decrease your speed during your run.

Why Stretch After Running

Stretching after you run can be crucial to success as well, however. Your muscles have been working for a long time, and they may still be tense from the workout. Doing a cool-down stretch can help decrease soreness and increase your range of motion.

When you get done with your run, you can take a few minutes to sit down and stretch out your muscles. Focus on your hip flexors, your quads, your hamstrings, and your calves. Take slow, deep stretches that get deep into your warmed muscles and improve the circulation.

When Should You Stretch? 

There are people on both sides of the “before or after debate”. But when it comes right down to it, if you have to pick one to do, it’s better to stretch before your run.

In general, runners don’t need to be very limber to do their sport well, and the main purpose of the static after-run stretches is to improve your flexibility. But the pre-run warmup stretches will help prevent injuries, improve your run times, and get your heart rate and circulation up before your run.

That being said, it is worth the extra time to stretch both before and after your run.

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Taking time to warm up and cool down before and after your workout is a good idea. Your muscles need a little TLC, and easing them into and out of your workout will help you feel and perform better. But at the end of the day, it’s better to stretch before running than after if you have to pick only one.

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