Should you stretch as part of your warmup for running?

hamstring-stretch-on-floorShould I Stretch or Should I Go Now?
If I don’t there will be trouble and if I do there could be double,
so come on and let me know…should I stretch or should I go?

The great stretch debate has been going on for several years now with lots of conflicting views leaving the average weekend athlete confused and unsure what to do.  It’s a question I get asked a lot as a physio.

“Should I stretch before or after exercise and what type of stretching should I do”?

This is a quick and simple guide into the benefits of stretching for warming up and cooling down during your half vbhm-sussex-beacon-runner-smmarathon training.  At this point it’s probably worth mentioning that there is no one size fits all plan, every individual is different and because of the conflicting evidence on this subject this post is partly based on research and personal experience as a runner and physio.

A study by Simic et al (2012) concluded that static stretching as a sole activity during a warm up routine should generally be avoided, as it was found to reduce power, strength and explosive performance.  However, the negative effects were only short term and generally returned to normal after 5 to 10 minutes, these negative effects were also unlikely to occur if the stretch was kept under 45 seconds.

Behm et al (2011) documented that dynamic stretching either has no effect on performance or may improve performance especially when the stretching duration is prolonged.  However, the study also went on to say that static stretching used in a separate training session could actually improve range of movement and health.

Confused?  Join the club.

Behm et al concluded that:

“Generally, a warm-up to minimize impairments and enhance performance should be composed of a submaximal intensity aerobic activity followed by large amplitude dynamic stretching and then completed with sport-specific dynamic activities. Sports that necessitate a high degree of static flexibility should use short duration static stretches with lower intensity stretches in a trained population to minimize the possibilities of impairments”.

In other words if you’re doing an activity that uses long drawn out movements such as martial arts or ballet then static stretches may be useful.  However, if you’re a runner then short low intensity aerobic exercise, followed by dynamic stretches and finished off with a few running specific dynamic exercises is likely to be more important.

In my opinion stretching is very much a personal thing, I tend to spend 10 to 15 minutes warming up with a combination of light aerobic work followed by dynamic stretches and sports specific exercises.  When it comes to static stretches this is very much dependent on how much time I’ve already had away from the wife and kids, If I can get away with it I might spend 5 minutes doing short duration (under 45 seconds) static stretches on all the major lower limb muscle groups.

So to conclude you can find lots of conflicting views and counter arguments for all types of stretches, if you want my advice do what feels good for you but don’t spend all your non-running time stretching!  In my opinion a good balance between warm up, running, cool downs and strength work is the winning formula.

James
Sundial’s Physiotherapist

VBHM logoSundial is a partner for the Vitality Brighton Half Marathon on 26th Feb 2017  providing clinical care and advice for sports injuries for the runners. If you have any niggles then give us a call and our physio’s, chiropractors and massage therapists can see you quickly. Running the Vitality Brighton Half Marathon? Call for a free Runners MOT

 

Acupuncture and homeopathy to reduce symptoms of perimenopause.

Acupuncture BrightonThough the severity is variable, most women report experiencing some symptoms once they enter the perimenopausal phase of their lives, which may last anything from months to years until their periods cease at menopause. The average age for menopause is 50 with perimenopause generally starting in the mid 40’s although it is not uncommon for women to experience premature menopause and the onset of these symptoms in their late 30’s and early 40’s.

Common symptoms during this time include:

-Changes to the normal pattern of menstrual cycle with heavier or lighter bleed.
-Hot flushes.
-Night sweats.
-Difficulty sleeping.
-Reduced libido.
-Vaginal dryness.
-Headaches,
-Low mood, anxiety.
-Palpitations.
-UTI’s.

Case study:

44-year-old Etta was struggling and came to see me for treatment of her increased anxiety and extremely low moods, erratic menstrual cycle, low backache & hot flushes.
Having taken her case history it was evident that in the terminology of Chinese medicine it would be necessary to rebalance her kidney, heart and liver energy.
A weekly treatment plan of acupuncture was undertaken and homeopathic remedies were prescribed. Dietary changes were also suggested to help support with the inclusion of phytoestrogens such as cabbage, fennel, sage, alfa  & EFA’S.
Improvement was shown after the first treatment with Etta reporting a reduction in anxiety, hot flushes, and backache. After six weekly sessions a 29-day cycle was established and mood lifted. She now comes for monthly sessions to maintain her health and wellbeing addressing any symptoms that may arise.

I practice at Sundial Clinics in Brighton and in London, visit my website www.juliabaker.net for details.

To book an appointment or for further information you can contact me at hellojuliabaker.net or on 07791 345 053.