Should I be stretching?: Hi. Now completed Wk... - Couch to 5K

Couch to 5K

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Should I be stretching?


Hi. Now completed Wk8 Run 2, managed about 4.4k of running in that time, but have NEVER done any stretching. I know the view is now that it is not required before running but is it really necessary after? I have had no injuries or aything so far and so not sure if I should just carry on without post run stretches.

16 Replies

It seems to be a contentious issue. Most who do it say that it does them good - but I have read many running Trainers say that it can cause injuries. Personally, I have never felt the need to do it -- I have stretched post-run but for me , I haven't found it to be of any great physical benefit. What I do think is important is a post -run cool down walk. The more exhausted I am at the end of a 5K run , the more that I feel I need it.


Your body knows when you need to stretch - it tells you by the tightness and the aches. I haven't been great at this and now becoming more aware that I will have to do more the further I run. There are plenty of people on here that have suffered injuries due to not stretching so I for one will be doing more! Glad to hear you are doing well that is a really good distance to cover for week 8! Carry on the great work! :)


Personally I think stretching is essential. I do this now instead of previous and post run walking and haven't suffered nearly as many aches and pains as before. I do spend a good 5 minutes doing them as well. As Carole01 says, the more distance you do, the more your body will tell you that you need to do them. Very well done on your progress so far. Keep it up and as Laura says, you are a proper runner nowO:-)

JensterGraduate in reply to Jonny1

I totally agree with this comment. As I've progressed I've stopped the pre and post run walking (unless there's a big hill in front of me after a long run!) and stretch before and after instead. I can tell when I've done the proper stretches as my legs are fine but if I've missed them I tend to suffer with soreness later & the next day.


Post run really helps - there is a lot of stuff saying that pre-run stretching can do more harm than good (e.g. on cold muscles) - congrats on being a proper runner now and Happy Easter


I always stretch after a long run, I find the brisk 5 minute warm up walk before a run is always enough to warm up the muscles. There are Strength and Flex podcasts from NHS choices too if you are interested....


Yes! There is no need to stretch before but afterwards, please please do. Just because you haven't had any problems so far, doesn't mean you don't need to do it. My problems took years to show themselves. I am going to post separately about this - please do yourself a favour and look out for it.


Well done for getting as far as you have. Keep up the good work. I have been running now for7/8 months. I havent felt the need to stretch. I do the warm up and down walks after every run. I don't seem to get any aches and pains. I am due to do my second 10k run in about 5 weeks. Hope you find what is good for you


I don't stretch as part of my run sessions. Having runners in my family who were always stretching all over the place, it was one of the things that put me off. (Runners can be really, really irritating) I took up C25K *because* it didn't require stretching (and because it only asked me to run for 60 seconds)

The only times I have felt the need to stretch have been when I have not done the 5 minutes walk at the end for some reason (eg I am already back at the car and for some reason don't want to do the walking time - that's only happend a handful of times if that). But it is interesting that I have felt the need then... which suggests that I am safe listening to my body.

It may be partly to do with speed and surface - I run off road and I don't run fast and keep it really loose. I've not done any speed work/intervals for a while. Anyway, been running 2 years now with no injuries yet, am up to 8k and less pain in my legs than before (although that's all relative since my legs have been hurting for 30 years...) Maybe it also has something to do with me not running straight from home? I've only done that a couple of times, once in snow which was fine and once I was straight on tarmac and I am in no hurry to repeat the latter experience as it felt very hard on the body. Or maybe it is something particular about my illness which means my experience is different. All I know is that if someone had told me I shouldn't run without stretching afterwards I wouldn't be running. Which quite probably would mean I wasn't now a 'healthy' BMI. I know that all the fussing is probably part of the attraction for some people but running for me is now an integral part of my life rather than a passionate hobby, if that makes sense.

I do however now (last 6 months I think) do at least a brief (5-10 minutes) yoga session first thing every morning which includes stretching the main things that could get tightened up by running.


Despite being 60, and thus a prime target of many stretching sermons, I do not stretch and do not intend to do so as it can cause cramping. I did feel stiff at times after C25K sessions. Since graduating, though, I've stopped being concerned with running non-stop for a certain time, but instead either use predetermined walk-run intervals or listen to my body and take walk breaks as I think I need them. Since starting this pattern, not only has my overall pace increased, but I have never felt any stiffness or twinges although I have increased my distance to nearly 10K at the moment. Perhaps the fact I work with dumbbells and ankle weights on non-running days helps this happy state as presumably it stretches and strengthens muscles even though no classic stretching is involved.


To stretch, or not to stretch is the big question.

I did not suffer any problems, at least of any note, during the 9 weeks, but have suffered since. I stretch all the time, and in fact have started a daily routine of yoga stretches. This is in part because I have a long standing gait/posture issue, which is improving.

The theory though with stretching is simple enough. Any form of exercise will shorten the muscles used for that exercise as they tighten up. Stretching just helps to pull them out to the normal length again. If you run, then have a day where you are on your feet (say working in a shop) then you would probably work them out enough. I drive a desk all day, and sitting is notoriously bad for you. Stretching therefore is important to me.

Try some simple stretches, just enough to extend the muscles, but don't go to far, as you could create an injury you didn't have before. Build up to full extension, and you will be fine. For what it is worth before I started running I could touch the floo r with my fingertips, now after a run, and a good stretch workout I can put my palms flat on the floor. (Pulls on the hamstrings, so need to be well stretched). No one else in my house can do that :-)


As I suspected there is no consensus. I may try a little stretching after runs, but if I get injured I will know who to blame! :-)


I'm inclined to go along with Googleme. A good compromise for you could be to do some yoga or Pilates on your rest days. I find that when I'm doing a Pilates based keep fit regime each day for a few minutes I find this C25K programme that bit easier on my body. Good luck and best wishes whatever you decide works for you.

Stretching after run usually helps relax muscles! It sure helped me.


I always stretch post run otherwise I feel very stiff next day. Gentle stretching releases the lactic acid from the muscles. This acid is increased during exercise and causes the musce to tighten when the exercise stops, that's what causes soreness and stiffness.

Information on 'why' here

Having said that - it's an individual thing. Personally - it works for me.

stevo216Graduate in reply to Renka

Thanks for that. Interesting. Like a bit of scienetific rather than anecdotal evidence.

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