Pre-Run Stretches vs. Post-Run Stretches: The Difference Between Dynamic and Static Warmups & Cool Downs

Pre-Run Stretches vs. Post-Run Stretches: The Difference Between Dynamic and Static Warmups & Cool Downs

Pre-Run Stretches vs. Post-Run Stretches: The Difference Between Dynamic and Static Warmups & Cool Downs

Stretching is one of the most important parts of any athlete's exercise. Without the first and last stretch, you could be at a much higher risk for serious muscle and joint injury.


In fact, most runner-injuries are due to improper stretching, or not stretching at all.


A proper stretching routine has two phases. Pre- and post-run stretches are there to warm up muscles before exercise, and cool them down once you're done.


Here's everything you should know about the importance of warmups, cooldowns and the pre- & post-run stretch routine.


The Pre- and Post-Run Stretch Routine


The Pre-Run Stretch


The pre-run stretch is meant to prepare the muscles and joints for what's about to come. Like tube-powered amps or TVs, muscles can't just be turned on and be pushed to their limits. It's too much too soon, and you'll have a blown-out knee – just like you could have had a blown-out tube in an amplifier.


Muscles have to warm up first. This is what the pre-run stretch is there for.


A proper pre-run stretch goes through the muscles and joints that will take the most strain. Low-impact exercises that cause less strain and more slow elasticity are ideal. Squats, steps, and slow walks are three great examples of a pre-run stretch.


The Post-Run Stretch


The post-run stretch is meant to relax muscles and joints after an exercise session or run. Without a post-run stretch, lactic acid will build up in the muscle. It's what makes heavy exercise or strain hurt more the next day.


A post-run stretch reduces the amount of lactic acid that can build up, releasing the potential pain and soreness that hit most after exercise. Post-run stretching also reduces tension, lessening your next-day injury risk. The best recommended post-run stretches are static, relaxed and don't add extra strain to muscles or joints. 


Dynamic or Static Stretches


Dynamic versus Static


Stretch exercises don't just come in two phases, but can also be divided into two types. A stretch exercise can be either dynamic, or static. Both are important for an effective routine that'll put you in less pain the next day after a run or jog.


What Are Dynamic Stretches?


Dynamic stretches are any stretch exercises that require the body in motion. Jumping jacks and walks are two examples of dynamic exercises, usually used for preparation or exercise before a more intensive run.


Exercises like these are meant to warm up muscles and joints first, to reduce any potential chances for injury.


What Are Static Stretches?


Static stretches are any warmups or cooldowns that keep most of the body still. The static stretch, of which yoga and squats are two examples, supports the joints and muscles while allowing for slow deliberate movements.


Static stretches are excellent for both warmups and cool downs. Added support reduces chances for strain while exercising, either before or after a more high-impact routine.


Conclusion: A Successful Stretch

A runner's performance is only as good as their stretch. Success depends on how well muscles are prepared, and whether they are allowed to relax after they've done their work. If you take anything from this post, let it be this: never forget to stretch! 

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