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Should I stretch before running?

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I'm halfway into a Learn to Run 10K program and am starting to feel soreness/tightness in a couple of places. One is my right hamstring (I think?), back of my leg, just north of the halfway mark between buttocks and knee. If I am sitting for a while it is very stiff and sore when I get up. It doesn't bother me when I'm running. I also notice it twinges if I'm going up stairs.

The other spot is on my left hip. I think it is my hip flexor muscle. It feels like a bruise or tender spot, but only when I'm walking.

Neither of these are affecting my running, but I don't like being sore afterwards. It makes me feel old!!

I think I may need to do some stretching before and/or after a run. Can anybody recommend some quick and simple stretches to prevent this sort of thing? Or is this just what happens when you take up running again in your mid-40s?

Replies

  • ThickMcRunFast
    ThickMcRunFast Posts: 22,511 Member
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    Basic hip flexor stretches will be fine, though I would warm up before stretching. Stretching while cold could do you more harm

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XctGjJ4nNYQ

    If you hip flexor and hamstrings are hurting, it might be a sign that your glutes are weak (a common runner problem). In addition to stretches, consider some strengthening exercises (squats, lunges, side leg raises). If your hip starts hurting when running, stop. A strain in that area can take months to heal properly.
  • RunnerElizabeth
    RunnerElizabeth Posts: 1,091 Member
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    Roll your hamstrings, hips and calves too out on a foam roller after your runs. Hurts, but helps in the long run.

    To warm up before a run, I just walk for 5 minutes. This and the foam roller help me.
  • omma_to_3
    omma_to_3 Posts: 3,265 Member
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    Zero reason to stretch before a run. After is good though. Foam rollers work well.
  • Mokey41
    Mokey41 Posts: 5,769 Member
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    You don't stretch before running. Cold muscles should never be stretched, it causes injury. Before your run you can do some dynamic movement to get the muscles warmed up (jumping jacks, skipping, etc) or just walk a few minutes before you start to run. After you can do stretching to loosen up anything that got tight while you ran or use a foam roller.

    Some aches and pains are from bad form while running. It might be worthwhile to find someone knowledgeable that can watch you run and tell you what might need to be improved. Having the right shoes to compensate for some physical issues (over pronating, flat feet, etc) can make a huge difference too. I have to wear the right shoes and I know when I get tired I tend to turn my right foot in which in turn causes my hip flexors to ache.
  • 13suzie
    13suzie Posts: 349 Member
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    I never stretch cold muscles. Rather, I ease into my runs with gentle beginning. (I always do a warm up mile before treadmill repeat/track miles.)

    Sometimes, I stretch after my run in the shower.

    If you are sore, try taking epsom salt baths! They relieve and prevent soreness. (I am already planning to take one after my 12 mi tomorrow...)

    Be sure you get plenty of protein during the day so your body can do muscle repairs (at night)!
  • omma_to_3
    omma_to_3 Posts: 3,265 Member
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    I like Epsom salt baths and compression socks too!
  • Cherimoose
    Cherimoose Posts: 5,208 Member
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    First try stretching those 2 areas several times a day, but not before running:

    > Hip flexor:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qKFJOTk-cUE

    > Hamstrings:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hjAQvC0gOTo
    keep your back straight when doing it

    Do each for 30 seconds. Only stretch the side that hurts.

    By the way, your muscles are about 100 degrees F, which is pretty darn warm. You can stretch without "warming up" first provided that you ease into the stretch slowly and don't push too hard.
  • walleymama
    walleymama Posts: 174 Member
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    Thank you everyone.

    I do five minutes of walking before beginning each run, as a warmup.

    I have relatively new running shoes and orthotics so I think the support there is good.

    I would not go so far as to say I am in pain. It's more discomfort and stiffness and, as I said, it is not present when I am running. It is worst if I come home after a run and sit down for a while (like at the computer) and then get up I feel very stiff in those places. If I'm walking around the house, doing housework etc, then it is not very noticeable.

    Thanks for the links to the stretches. I will try these after my next run (I have three days between the one yesterday and my next one, which should be enough recovery time).
  • Ribena145
    Ribena145 Posts: 201 Member
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    Definately not. Always warm up first. If you really feel like you want to do something, then try a walk for about 5 minutes and do some gentle/mild stretching, but the bulk of your stretching should be done after when the muscles can tolerate it. Imagine this, bend some spaghetti when it's dry or bend the spaghetti when it's cooked...which bends better?