Mayo Clinic: I recently started jogging for exercise. I have
been stretching before each run, but Iíve heard that some
stretches increase your risk of injury. Which stretches should
I do, and which should I avoid?
Stretching is an important part of your exercise routine, as
it increases your flexibility and improves your jointsí
range of motion. Typically, the best time to stretch is after
a workout when your muscles are warm and more receptive to
stretching. Performing a variety of basic stretches that focus
on major muscle groups generally is recommended to protect you
from exercise-related injuries.
the significant benefits you get from stretching is ensuring
that you have optimal range of motion around your joints. Full
range of motion around your joints enables your muscles to
work most effectively. Stretching also helps establish and
maintain equal flexibility on both sides of your body. If a
muscle on one side of your body is tighter than the same
muscle on the other side, your risk for injury can increase
due to the imbalance.
into the habit of stretching your major muscle groups after
each workout can be a good way to begin a routine of
stretching. For runners, itís a good idea to regularly
stretch your calf muscles, quadriceps, hamstrings, hip flexors
and iliotibial bands (also known as the ITB).
calf muscle runs along the back of your lower leg. The
quadriceps muscle runs along the front of your thigh, and the
hamstring is on the back of your thigh. Hip flexors, which
enable you to lift your knees and flex at the waist, are on
your upper thighs ó just below your hip bones. Your ITB is a
band of tissue that runs along the outside of your hip, thigh
addition to stretching those muscles, a knee-to-chest stretch
that stretches the muscles of the lower back also can be
useful. Find detailed instructions for stretching each of
these muscle groups by searching for "Slideshow: A guide
to basic stretches" on Mayo Clinicís website,
has suggested that doing these types of stretches, known as
static stretches, just before activities that involve running
or jumping can cause a small decrease in athletic performance.
Instead, warm up with an aerobic activity, such as jogging or
cycling, for five to 10 minutes before you stretch. Or, better
yet, wait until after you are done with your aerobic workout,
and then go through a series of stretches. If you donít
exercise regularly, you may want to stretch a few times a week
after a brief warmup to maintain your flexibility.
stretch, hold your stretches steady, and donít bounce.
Bouncing can cause injury to your muscles. Donít hold your
breath. Instead, breathe regularly and easily through your
stretches. You shouldnít feel pain as you stretch ó only
light pulling. To gain the most benefit from stretching, hold
each stretch for at least 30 seconds.
have health concerns or injuries, talk to your health care
provider or a physical therapist before you start a routine of
stretching. He or she can review your situation and help you
determine which stretches are best for you.