By Dr. Brittany Moran

The great debate; to stretch or not to stretch!?  When people think about stretching they tend to think about traditional static stretching which is often the prolonged holding of a stretch for anywhere from 10-60 seconds or longer. However, a more optimal way to include stretching into your post run routine is – one of our favourite tools; Active Isolated Stretching.

It is important to appreciate the importance of recovery when it comes to running, and living, your best. Training can definitely be a balancing act between pushing your physiological limits and executing proper recovery.

Although the research remains somewhat inconclusive in regards to stretching, there are a few guidelines to keep in mind. 

  • Rather than static-stretching before a run include a dynamic warm up (check out this video for some run specific ideas: CLICK HERE )
  • As a general rule, keep the stretching active instead of static

At The Runner’s Academy, our favourite post-run routine is Active Isolated Stretching (AIS) from Wharton Health (check out their videos and resources here). The basic concept is to hold a stretch for only 1-2 secs and perform 10 repetitions per side. 

Why it works: This technique makes use of a mechanism in the brain called reciprocal inhibition. This is a process by which the agonist and antagonist muscle, (eg: the hamstring and quadricep), cannot both be contracting at the same time. So, if you actively move (contract) your hamstring, your quadricep must relax and therefore allow for a better stretch through the quadricep. 

Another benefit due to the active quality, is encouraging blood flow throughout the joints and muscles. Think of it as flushing out the legs post workout, which encourages faster recovery.

Additionally, AIS works the joints through a large range of motion which can also help with  mobility.

Consistently incorporating this as part of your recovery routine can also positively impact awareness of how the body is responding to training. By comparing your own range of motion and tightness from side to side and from day to day, you can help uncover potential problem areas. These potential imbalances can always use some extra time and attention through mobilization and/or self treatment! 

These should ideally be done right after your run… However, if you do not have time there is still benefit from doing them later on. So basically, there are no excuses!

Check out THIS VIDEO to add AIS to your routine TODAY!  Happy stretching!