When I first started running, before each workout I would do several different static stretches. For example, to stretch my right quad, I would first stand up straight and balanced on both feet, then use my left hand to pull my right leg back, bending it at the knee. Static stretching, in a nutshell, is stretching a resting muscle. It is one of the most common types of stretching.
During those first few months of my running career, I relied solely on this type of stretching for each area of my body, figuring that’s what I was supposed to do. That was the only kind of stretching I knew and at the time, I didn’t see any problems with it. As I continued to run, I began to notice a slight pain on the outside of my left knee. I figured it was attributed to simply being a newbie runner. My body wasn’t used to pounding the pavement and it was letting me know about it. I did a little research and decided that I was aggravating my ITB (Iliotibal Band). I was running appropriate distances and wearing the right shoes. What could I have done to bring on the ITB issue? Well, after a little thought and research, I decided to switch up the way I stretched and see if that made a difference. I adopted the non-static, or dynamic style of stretching and within about a week, my knee was exponentially better. For me, static stretching wasn’t a good idea. Rested muscle + stretch + run = injury. The dynamic style of stretching agreed with my body, allowing my muscles to warm up gently and I am happy to report that I haven’t had a single injury since then. KNOCK ON WOOD!
Here is a great example of some of the dynamic stretches I do before a run.
Now, I know there is quite the debate out there surrounding this issue. Some say static is the way to go, while others are devoted dynamic stretchers like me. When it comes down to it, you’ve got to do what works for you and your body. It is important to figure out which style suits you and your needs.
How do you stretch? Have you used both methods? What works best for you?
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