Stretching before running no help for injuries, stopping could harm

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Stretching before running
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Research presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) today found stretching won't help prevent running injuries, but changing routine might hurt. The findings also revealed other risks that increase the chances of getting hurt during a run.

Runners who normally stretch should continue

The researchers instead found the biggest risk of injury was from higher body mass index, switching routine - not stretching for those who normally do so, or starting - and having a recent history of running injury. In the study, runners who stopped their normal routine were more likely get hurt.

Daniel Pereles, MD, study author and orthopaedic surgeon from Montgomery Orthopedics outside Washington, DC. said, "As a runner myself, I thought stretching before a run would help to prevent injury."

Instead, the researchers found any one can get hurt, but higher weight, previous injury and age increased the likelihood.

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For the study, the researchers included 2,729 runners who run 10 or more miles per week, randomizing 1,366 to a stretch group and 1,363 to a non-stretch group.

The stretching group focused on quadriceps, hamstrings, and gastrocnemius/soleus muscle groups for 3 to five minutes before running.

The researchers say those who were used to stretching and stopped were more likely to get hurt. "Although all runners switching routines were more likely to experience an injury than those who did not switch, the group that stopped stretching had more reported injuries, implying that an immediate shift in a regimen may be more important than the regimen itself"

The most common problems included groin pulls and injury to the foot, ankle and knee.

Stretching before running made no difference for preventing injuries. Women, men, low and high mileage runners and all age groups were found to be at risk. The chances of getting hurt were higher for heavier and older runners, those who had been recently injured and among runners who switched from their normal routine.

American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons

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