Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Importance of Stretching

My first 5k is coming up in a little over a week, so I have been running a lot and trying to improve my time.  I have been feeling a lot of hip pain during and especially after my runs. It has not been enough to stop me from running, but still enough to be a nag. 
I asked my doctor what she thought was going on and she told me that it is probably due to the extra weight I am carrying.  That running is hard on your body and the extra weight is putting a lot of pressure on my hip joints.  That made a lot of sense to me, so I just figured I would get used to it.  After about a week of still having the hip pain, I asked my daughter’s physical therapist what she thought.  Her answer was that similar to that of my doctor.  That running is hard on the body and to take it easy for a few days.  Once the pain was gone, ease into my running routine again.
With my first race coming up, I really did not want to take it easy!  I did some research online and learned that I have not been warming up properly for my runs.  Some sites I found said that runners should stretch from 5 to 20 before a run and the same after a run.  To warm up, I was walking for a few minutes before my runs, but not really doing any stretching—before or after. 
For my long run this past Sunday, I stretched for about 15 minutes before my run, paying special attention to my hip area.  I felt a lot better during the run and even hit a new personal best.  I made sure to cool down with some more stretching, about 10 minutes, after the run.  I felt great the rest of the day Sunday.  Once my spin class rolled around Monday morning, I only had about five minutes to stretch before class started.  The hip pain was back.  After class, I went home and did my Turbo Fire 15 minute stretching DVD.  It helped so much! The pain was gone again.  I am now a huge believer in stretching—both before and after a run. 
Have you had an experience like this? Do you always stretch before and/or after each run?  Do you have any “secret” ways you deal with running or exercising discomforts?  Have you found something that makes your runs easier? 
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  1. I tend to stretch very little. I probably spend about 5 minutes stretching prior to a workout and generally nothing afterwards. Though I will say, I have the worst time timing my mileage to be back at my car at the end of the miles I wanted to run, so I tend to walk about a quarter mile to my car after any given run. LOL! I think I had about a tenth or two-tenths of a mile on Tuesday night back to the car. :-)

  2. There was a great NYT times article a while back about how most doctors and PTs really don't know a thing about running for a lack of anything better, they just tell you to stop running.

    I would be careful against static stretching before a run - that can cause more harm than good. dynamic stretching before is great though. I personally don't stretch very much either...I know I should, but I just hate it!

    I'm a huge fan of my foam works magic. And whenever I'm in doubt, ice, ice, ice!

  3. All of my coaches have always stressed stretching. We would actually come in early or set aside 5 or so minutes for stretching when I was on the college swim team.

    Some other good stretching tools are foam rollers (they feel AMAZING) and even a rolling stick. I have a small rolling stick I can stick in my suitcase and travel with (don't take carry on, they don't always let you take it and will sometimes make you throw it away). I'll be talking about the rolling stick soon on my blog :)

  4. My trainer suggests to me that I stretch twice a day whether I'm running or not...especially when I'm training in the higher miles...and I definitely notice a difference in my performance and recovery if I don't stretch. She's also a big advocate of massage and suggests I get one at least once a month during training, maybe more if I'm feeling especailly sore. Do some research to see if there are any facilities in your area that offer intern massages. There's a hospital-affiliated wellness center close to where I work that also houses a massage therapy school. They offer 60 minute intern massages for $29!!! Many of the massages I've had there were better than one that I may have paid $80 for at a day spa. Normally, they will ask that you fill out a very short questionnaire at the end of the appointment as an evaluation of how you think the student did and what they may need work on. Now, all of this reminds me that I need to make an appointment!

  5. Thanks for the advice!

    I can totally see how a good massage would relax the muscles and improve performance. There is a massage school about 20 miles away from me. The savings would justify the drive. I will have to check it out!

    slp1650 and Rach--I am not familiar with a foam roller. What is it and where would I get one?

  6. I've seen them at running stores like Roadrunner Running. If you google it you can find where you can find them online.

    Pretty much it's a long foam cylinder. I love rolling my back on it- You sit down with the roller on the small of your back. Then lean back so your back is resting on it and then roll back and forth. You ever get the feeling you need to crack one area in your back? It can get it. You can also roll a lot of different leg muscles that are hard to get otherwise...

    I'm sure you can google better instructions or if you find a store that has one they can explain a few. They also usually have a few you can try.

  7. Stretching is important...your hip pain might be from where your thigh muscle inserts onto your hips especially if it came back after spin class. Massages and stretching will help that a lot. Taking a warm bath at night after long runs seems to help me too. Be careful about taking motrin; only take it after your run not before because it has been shown to be dangerous to take NSAIDS prior to a long run. It can harm your kidneys.

  8. I'm surprised they told you it was weight. It seems to me that you figured out the right answer - stretching. I know that extra weight makes running more difficult and puts extra stress on your body, but stretching is still supremely important.