• Geoff

Injury Prevention - 3. Stretching

Updated: Jun 15, 2021

Stretches for Runners, Vancouver Run Club, Injury Prevention

This is a preventative method. It is important to listen to your body and stop when needed and see a professional.

Unless otherwise referenced, the information in this article is from my own understanding or casual conversations with people with more medical knowledge than myself. The why we stretch and what happens is not as important as actually listening to your body and stretching. Like in other articles, this is a simplification of complex processes that happen in the body. In the end, try each stretch and make sure it's making you feel better. If not, stop the stretch and try something else. If ever in doubt, contact a professional.

Whats happening when we stretch

There are a couple of reasons that your muscles get stiff and tight when you exercise:

  1. As you increase the use of any muscle, it needs more nutrients and produces more waste and therefore, more blood will flow to the area.

  2. Additionally, when you work your muscles, your body senses that it needs to adapt to the added strain and starts to build more muscle.

With both of these cases, as more blood flows to the area, it starts to swell. This causes increased pressure, which causes tightness. It's important to note that this is normal, we all accept that tightness and stiffness accompanies working out. A small amount of soreness and ache may accompany this process, but too much ache, pain or soreness is not normal. This is why it is important to listen to your body and collect data about how you normally feel with increased exercise. This will help you understand your balance of muscle growth and overwork/muscle strain. If you are ever in doubt, it's best to consult a professional.

It is also important to note that when I’m talking about muscle tightness and stiffness is not specifically what is called DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness). Tightness is related to DOMS; however, in this article I’m choosing to isolate that sensation and deal with it individually. DOMS is also part of the recovery process, but isn’t dealt with in this article. For more information please see this article.

Why to stretch