Updated: Jun 3, 2020
Should You Stretch Before or After a Run?
Every one of us can agree that it’s tough to run with stiff, tight muscles. Not only that, but you could be setting yourself up for injury if you make it a habit. So stretching regularly to maintain or improve your muscles’ flexibility and range of motion—and avoid getting sidelined—is extremely important.
But the question remains: Should you stretch before or after your run? Test yourself below to see how much you know about when and how to stretch.
Stretching Before Running
Stretching has been hotly debated in recent years. There is no evidence that static stretching—the act of lengthening muscles and tendons to increase flexibility by holding one position—prevents injury or improves performance, experts now say. In fact, there’s some evidence that it can actually do more harm than good.
“Static stretching before exercise causes damage to the tissue, You’re inhibiting nerve contraction, so it’s not going to fire as quickly to tell the muscle to contract and perform. That leads to less force production, so your speed will go down.”
When it comes to staying injury-free, functional range of motion is more important than flexibility. That’s where dynamic stretching—active movements that stretch your muscles without staying in one position for too long (think: Frankenstein walk vs. touching your toes and holding it)—comes in.
Before your run, your time is better spent warming up with dynamic stretching for 10 to 15 minutes. These moves—which include exercises such as butt kicks, high knees, leg swings, or even a light jog—improve range of motion and loosen up muscles that you’re going to use on the road. They also increase heart rate, body temperature, and blood flow so you feel warmed up sooner and run more efficiently. “Before you exercise, you want to get blood to the muscles, which get them warmed up and ready to go.