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You bring up a good point., Justin! We will be covering all of this during the Injury Prevention Clinic on March 15. However it’s worth reviewing now.
Please do not stretch as your warm up for a workout. In order to warm up before a workout, it is always recommend that you do a dynamic warm up. If you stretch when your muscles are cold, this is a way you could pull a muscle. If you pull a muscle during a workout, this often means that you haven’t warmed up properly before the workout.
For warm up, as reviewed at the Kick Off Meeting, can be done with foam rolling, dynamic exercises (that engage the neuromuscular system), an easy walk/jog/spin, etc. The purpose here is to get the blood flowing to your muscles to warm them up before you start using them. If not, then you could ‘pull’ a muscle.
That said, there are two stretches that I recommend after a workout (once your muscles are warmed up and limber).
- Calf stretch – If you are changing your running form, you are likely going to be using your calf muscles in a way that you haven’t before. This change in form could cause soreness or even tightness. Thus a stretch on a stair/incline held for 3 minutes or more is recommended. Science has determined that any calf stretch held less than 3 minutes will provide little to no value.
- Chest (pecs) stretch – Due to our desk sitting and computer work, we find ourselves with tight pec muscles. Thus a stretch on a door frame/wall can help loosen up those tight muscles.
That said, great work Justin listening to your body. Scaling back on activities that will aggravate your calf muscles is recommended. Just do nice, easy zone 1-2 activities that foster blood flow for healing. However please do not do any activities with an elevated HR. If the pain continues, the best course of action is always to get in with a good sports minded PT. You are changing form that you have ingrained for 20-40 years and now using muscles that you never conditioned before (calf muscles are the biggest culprit!). Thus some guidance from a PT to keep you healthy might be warranted.
Thanks for the helpful feedback Justin! See you on March 15 where we will be addressing injury prevention strategies, warm up and cool down protocols, running mechanics, etc.