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Health Team

Stretching may not prevent injuries, study says

Posted February 21, 2011 5:30 p.m. EST
Updated February 21, 2011 6:26 p.m. EST

A new study recently presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons shows that stretching before running does not help prevent injuries but that it will not cause injuries either.

The study looked at nearly 3,000 long-distance runners. Half were told to stretch their legs for three to five minutes before their run. The other half had no warm-up.

Researchers found runners were more likely to get hurt if they were overweight, had previous injuries or if they switched their routines.

Running coach Rick Garrigan believes stretching has its benefits, but preventing injuries isn't one of them.

"We've known for a while that static stretching alone doesn't prevent injury in any way,” he said.. “It doesn't have an effect on performance in any positive manner."

But Garrigan recommends that if you do stretch before running, keep doing it. If you don’t, there’s no need to start.

"When you make quick changes to a routine, your body has to react to that, and that could lead to possible problems,” he said.

Some doctors say the best warm-up before running is to start out walking.