7. Stretching: yes and no!
Pre-workout static stretching should be done ONLY IF running biomechanics are sufficiently altered by shortened muscle groups to either increase the risk of injury or decrease mechanical efficiency.
Boo yah! How’s this for challenging running dogma. I have spent more time that I probably care to mention stretching cold tight muscles right after I got out of the car before a run. I was not alone. I did this because it is what everyone else was doing. As I read that back I realize how dumb of a reason that is.
As it turns out, stretching is a bit more complex than it appears. Timing and the kind of stretching are crucial. One of my favorite recent pieces on stretching is by Rick Merriam. He is the editor of a website called EngagingMuscles.com. There have also been a number of studies looking at the efficacy of stretching, particularly static stretching (Holcomb 2008, Thacker 2005, Shrier 1999) on injury prevention and running performance.
In my search to validate or debunk this “Golden Rule” I couldn’t find any compelling evidence for static stretching before a run. I did find many indicators that it could actually do some damage (Shrier lists five reasons for this in his abstract).
This isn’t to say that you should arrive to your training location, turn up some Metallica and jump into a high intensity activity. What some of the data indicates is that a light warm-up of 15-2- minutes followed by a series of movement specific dynamic exercises can be an effective way to prepare your body for running and keep your form in check.
Now get out there, go run and have fun-Patton