To Stretch or Not to Stretch?

“There is a lot of controversy about this,” Dr. Daniel Pereles of George Washington University pondered on the question “whether stretching before going for a run would be beneficial for recreational runners” like him. As he found out, stretching makes no difference at all.

For this three-month study, Dr. Pereles and his peers studied 2,729 volunteers who ran at least ten miles weekly. The test group, having an average age of thirteen, was recruited online. During the test period, the runners were grouped into two: the stretchers and the non-stretchers.

The stretchers loosened and stretched first before doing their run. They allotted at least three to five minutes to stretch their hamstrings, calves, quadriceps and Achilles tendons. On the other hand, the non-stretchers proceeded with their regular runs without stretching first.

Both groups were instructed to report any injury or condition that prevented them from running for at least a week. They were also told to just stick with all the normal aspects of their running routine.

Based on the results of the study, both running groups had an injury percentage of 16 percent. This was presented at the 2011 meeting of American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons. The common injuries included foot and ankle injuries, groin pulls and knee-related ailments.

Moreover, Dr. Pereles and his team also found out that changing your routine can likely cause injury. The researchers randomly assigned a couple of stretchers to the no-stretch group. This resulted in an increase of injury risk by 40 percent while non-stretchers who were moved to the stretching group had a 30 percent rise in injury risk.

“You get used to your routine and if you change it, you’re more likely to get injured,” Dr. Pereles concluded.



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