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Stretching does not prevent injuries

Marc before the 3 hour run

During my short summer holiday in Holland I started running a bit more. I love it but I need to make time for it, and time is always my biggest constraint it seems. Not only because of work, but also because of the kids. And with a wife who regularly works until the early hours it means I normally don’t go to bed until 1 or 2 AM. So it’s virtually impossible to run in the morning before taking Scott to school and going to work.

But I set myself some goals and decided to start practicing more again. My plan is to run at least 25 km per week and to row another 15 km – at least when I am not traveling. That means my basic shape should be good enough to run a half marathon without too much trouble (except for muscle ache in the days after because I am not used to the distance).

One problem that I often have when I start running more is that I get injuries. Some people told me that that’s because I don’t stretch enough. As a runner in the high school track team we always did a lot of stretching exercises, but I hated them. I hardly ever do them and normally just start my runs a bit more slowly. I feel stretching doesn’t bring me much.

And now it seems that science confirms my experience. A study sponsored by USA track & field shows that stretching does not lead to less injuries. Interestingly there also does not seem to be any correlations between age, gender, mileage or level of competition and injuries. The only two factors that seem to influence whether a runner gets injured more is being overweight or having a recent injury.

If you are a big fan of stretching don’t suddenly stop doing it, however. If you are used to doing it and suddenly stop you double your injury risk. That probably explains the ‘myth’ that you need to stretch, because if you’re used to it it seems to really help.

The summary article on USA Track & Field is here:
For more details or the clinical details you can go here:

Thanks to Joe for sharing the link on

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  1. Interesting. I don’t stretch at all, whether its 10k or 100k. I’m at your age, got sprained ankle sometimes in trails. That has nothing to do with stretching. But my joints get stiffer by the year, so I think stretching helps somehow.
    Regarding your training. One of the most time efficient training cycle is 3 sessions (long run/speed run/weight training) in 2 weeks. That how I plan to stay fit during my 2 years of PT MBA studies.
    Good luck with your SH half-marathon!