The question came in – “What kinds of stretches should I be doing after running? Related, when I ran this morning I was very sore in my quads and felt that I wasn’t running in my “normal” form. I did get less sore and more like normal after a few minutes but are there any pre-running stretches that would help? Very new to all this and trying to do the right thing AND feel good.”
Response – “Jeff (Galloway) doesn’t advocate stretching of any kind. You definitely don’t stretch before a run. I’m curious about your run itself – was it up or down hill or were you pushing pace or distance? Soreness is a response to something. I suggest a cool soak (reduce swelling in the muscles) and chocolate milk – the almost perfect recovery drink. You might be starting out too fast on cold muscles and need to do a slow warm up before getting up to pace. Your body should adjust soon and you should find the soreness doesn’t happen as often.”
Going into this topic a bit more, Jeff feels that stretching is often the culprit for injury. Jeff’s research has found that stretching can cause or exacerbate micro tears in the muscles and tendons. Those tears may present as soreness or cramps rather than the beginnings of a pull or more extensive tear. Jeff suggests a more extensive warm up and/or cool down and then icing or a cool soak following your workout.
How do you warm up? Start with your regular interval or walk but use a slower pace for the first few minutes or mile (some need more than a mile and that’s okay). After your warm up, ease into your regular interval or pace and see how your body feels. It should begin to feel like it’s waking up, and the muscles and tendons that are typically sore or tight, should begin to feel like they are responding the way you expect. Once your body is warm, proceed with your scheduled time, distance or race.
For those doing a 5k or 10k race, a warm up is vital to hitting your time goal. Think about the runners at the front of a pack before the race. They are jogging back and forth and jumping up and down. They don’t stand still until just a few minutes before the race starts. They are warming up their muscles so that when the gun goes off, they can run at their top speed – and it works! If it works for them, we should definitely follow suit so that we can have the workout we plan too.