Pre-Run Stretch May Hurt Endurance
Runners Who Stretched Expended More Energy, Ran Shorter Distances, Study Finds
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Stretching and Performance continued...
"I know runners of all abilities," he says. "Some stretch on a regular basis and some don't. Many, like me, stretch after a run, when the muscles are warm and supple."
"This study reinforces what I've heard in the sport at the top end: 'You don't see a cheetah stretch before the cat goes after [its] prey.'"
"This [study] is looking at a very select group of people," says Cathy Fieseler, MD, member of the board of directors of the American Medical Athletic Association and a veteran marathoner and ultra-distance runner. A doctor in Tyler, Texas, she notes that the men studied had a low level of body fat and were regular runners. She says the finding that the pre-run stretch affected performance in high-level athletes is plausible, but she is not sure if the findings would apply to recreational or older runners.
She wonders, too, if the 16-minute stretching period made the runners more tired than the pre-run session of simply sitting, and if that may have affected performance.
The research is clear, she says, on another aspect of stretching. "There's no study that says a pre-run stretch reduces the risk of injury."
Her advice for endurance runners? She usually doesn't recommend a pre-run stretch, but she does see the value of warming up. She tells runners: "Start off easy, do a mile or two. If you are sweating, your muscles are warmed up. Then you can pick up the pace."
''The biggest thing is to start out slow."