Time and again you’ve heard trainers and running mates poetically wax and wane that stretching before and after runs significantly reduces the risk of injury. This longstanding notion is not entirely true, and now that you’re committed to running farther, it’s even more important to get proper information for improved performance. With that, let’s go ahead and introduce two tried and true ways to ease the tensions in your tendons.
Most runners think they should stretch just before running. You see them everywhere, legs on benches, leaning against buildings, getting ready to run. I don’t recommend this. Just before running, the muscles are tight and may pull or strain easily. You are particularly at risk early in the morning when you’re cold and blood flow is minimal. Pushing a cold muscle, tendon or joint often leads to injury.
Stretching right after running is also a risky proposition. The muscles don’t simply stop all activity when you stop running. They are still “revved up” and ready to respond for about 30 minutes; stretching may cause them to spasm. When they are working hard like this, a stretch often activates the stretch reflex, leaving you tighter than before.
When, then? The best time to stretch is after the body is warmed up, relaxed and when the blood is moving. Since many runners do stretch incorrectly, it’s best to wait and stretch after warming up. Don’t stretch to warm the muscles up; it won’t work. Stretch in the evening, for example, or throughout the day as you have time. Many of my friends use stretching as a nice way to prepare for sleep.
Let’s face it—it’s hot out there, and we’re still weeks away from approaching autumn’s relief. With that being said, let’s talk about proper H2O intake and its impact on your body. As you’re probably well aware, dehydration can cause severe medical conditions, muscle soreness and increase your recovery time after long runs. Instead of putting yourself in harm’s way, keep the water flowing before, during and after your runs by following these simple guidelines.
According to the American College of Sports Medicine, it’s crucial to drink early and regularly during a long outing, consuming 20-40 ounces of fluid per hour. This is a lot less than many of our runners are drinking, however, it averages to be about 4-7 ounces per mile for most runners. At the end of long runs, and for hours afterward, even if you are very thirsty, don’t drink more than 8 ounces of water about every 20 minutes. It is better to drink an electrolyte beverage, like Accelerade, which will help slow down the absorption of water. This regimen is also helpful in avoiding hyponatremia, or water intoxification, and can be read more in-depth here.
Although the aforementioned tips aren’t necessarily myth busters, I do hope they provide a new perspective on ways to maximize your muscle tolerance so you can run healthier.
*select excerpts provided by JeffGalloway.com