Working Out the Kinks

The perfect workout includes a thorough stretch.

Stretching is a form of exercise in which specific muscles are stretched in order to build flexibility and relieve tension. Believe it or not, stretching is one of the most controversial subjects in exercise and sport. For many years, experts, would-be experts, athletes, and coaches have disagreed about many aspects of stretching.

Runners following a training program tend to focus on building endurance and speed. Yet, a flexible body is more efficient, sees more gains in strength and endurance, enjoys more range of motion, is less injury-prone, recovers more quickly, and simply feels better. Regular stretching is a must.

Before stretching, always jog at least 10 minutes to warm up the muscles. Never stretch "cold" muscles. Also, you should always take time to stretch after a run.

Studies suggest using just one form of stretching is not as beneficial as using a variety of stretching routines. Using a variety of stretching exercises will allow athletes and runners to experience the full effects of stretching.

Types of stretching

  • Static — Target muscles are stretched by the work of other muscles
  • Active-isolated — Flexibility training that isolates a single muscle group
  • Contract-relax — Isometric contraction of the targeted muscle
  • Yoga — Static-active stretching that increases flexibility and can speed recovery
  • Dynamic — Controlled movements to improve range of motion and loosen up muscles
Daily stretching should be a part of everyone's routine.  

Daily stretching should be a part of everyone's routine.