Wednesday, June 22, 2011


I have a confession. I don't stretch before I run. I just put on my gear, step out the door, hit start on my stopwatch, and go.

For a long time, I felt guilty about this, as if it somehow it indicated I was less serious than other runners. But more and more, I have been seeing articles like this one in the New York Times. The bottom line? There really isn't much evidence that static stretches--the kind we learned in high school--are useful in any way.

Of course, these things are notoriously difficult to study scientifically. How in the world can you set up a study where two groups of runners are exactly equal in all respects, except that one has stretched and the other has not? At the end of the day, we all individually have to keep experimenting to figure out what works for us (and what we enjoy).

Do you stretch before running? If so, how do you think it benefits you?


  1. I do stretch out before and after every run, but I do it quickly based on some guidelines I cut out of Runners World about a half-year ago. I'll see if I can't find it online when I get home and find the name of the article.

    Also, I really do credit doing weekly yoga for keeping me relatively injury. To me, the key in your post was "static stretches--the kind we learned in high school." Most of the stretching I do involves either movement (kicking your leg out to touch your outstretched arm, for example) or using your breathing to expand a somewhat static stretch (like reclining and dropping both of your legs to one side or the other), which simulates more natural movement rather than just sitting there.

  2. unless i'm excessively tight, i rarely stretch or do much warm-up. like you, i'm pretty much out the door and into it without much thought.

    i do stretch after the run though.

  3. Here's the article I was talking about: Dynamic Stretching. The article even makes a reference to the static stretching you refer to - sez save it to after you run.