USA Track and Field is in the middle of a very large study on the impact of stretching before you run and running-related injuries.
From their background information:
Many studies have been conducted to understand the impact of stretching or warm-ups on the risk of injury, but with conflicting results. A broad review of “stretching” has not conclusively determined whether a pre-run static stretch protects runners from injury during their routine training.
After reading through the research aka protocol I decided to join the study. The study is focused on three major muscle groups – calves/Achilles, hamstrings, and quadriceps. Volunteers who meet their criteria – any person over 13 who runs 10 miles a week, hasn’t had an injury which prevented running for more than 3 days, is planning on running for the next 3 months, and who is willing to commit to either stretching before running or not stretching before running. The last part may sound kinda logical but there are some who
believe that [pre-run] stretching is important for you to prevent injuries, [if that is you] then you should not volunteer for the Study. If you do not stretch before you run and you believe that stretching before running will increase the possibility of injuring yourself, then you should not volunteer for the Study.
The sign-up process is pretty painless, I think it was 13 simple questions about major health-related issues, your weekly mileage, and a few questions about chronic injuries.
The study process is fairly simple. If you are assigned to stretch, then you stretch. If you are assigned not to stretch, then you don’t stretch the 3 muscle groups. Either way you are allowed to continue with other normal stretching routines before, during or after running. To ensure everyone stretches in a similar manner they have created a how to stretch page to make sure your stretch properly. After the three months you file a report which contains 2 questions – I did or did not get injured during this study and I stretched x% of the time before running. If at any point during the study you get injured which is defined as not being able to run for 3 consecutive days – you file an injury report 3 weeks after the injury occurred.
The study began in April of 2007 and will continue until the maximum size of 10,000 is reached or they produce a statistically significant result.
Be sure to click on over and do your part to help the running community better understand injury prevention!
[tags] USATF, Research, Stretch Study, Stretching [/tags]