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SpecialistMichael, MS, CSCS
Category: General
Satisfied Customers: 508
Experience:  Senior Information Specialist
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this is for a EXCERSIZE EXPERT:

Customer Question

this is for a EXCERSIZE EXPERT: should i stretch after i finish running (i do interval running which is staggered interchanging sets of running and jogging equal interval distances). I never do because there is no risk of pulling a muscle after you finish running--all of that risk is during the actual run. Will it reduce next-day cramping. If yes, then how/why does it reduce next day cramping.
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: General
Expert:  DocPhilMD replied 3 years ago.

I'm a doctor but I am also well versed in exercise and exercise physiology.


Do you want my help?

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

yes please answer

Expert:  DocPhilMD replied 3 years ago.
Do you enjoy yoga Marc?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

please just answer my question instead of asking me questions

Expert:  DocPhilMD replied 3 years ago.
Do a quick yoga stretching workout after.
Expert:  SpecialistMichael replied 3 years ago.

My name isXXXXX am an exercise physiology expert and fitness expert.

To answer you question, there are 2 types of stretching and basically 2 purposes to each. This is a little longer of an answer and I will try to put it into terms that are easy to visualize.

The reason muscles cramp is because of the build up of waste product(lactic acid) and the nonstop firing of the motorunit. Basically this is called tetanus. It can be helped by stretching which physically lengthens the muscle and reduces the active tension on it. Conditioning is the other part, but obviously like performance increases this part takes time.

Static stretching, which is stretching and holding for 20-30 second holds is the type that can be done before but should after your workouts to allow the muscles and tissues to relax and release tension. This longer stretching actually reduces performance as it really does allow them to relax, so you can see why this is better AFTER working out - when you are recovering. Static stretching IS fine, before - but people doing max effort activities like olympic throws, weightlifting and powerlifting may not always want to.

Dynamic and contract release(PNF- proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation) stretching is the type where you put the hamstring(in this example) at a light length, then contract the muscle at that length for 6 seconds at length, then attempt to further the stretch for 10 seconds, when you reach a new length contract for 6 etc..repeat 3 times. So this would be good for max effort, as it only reduces the inhibition as opposed to relaxing the muscles.

Muscles act as a pump for waste products, so when they are inflexible, the amount of work to move a body becomes more. Imagine having to take baby steps to walk as opposed to long strides, its more effort. In cases where someone lacks flexibility, if muscles are too tight, there isn't really enough "time" for them to relax to allow that muscle pump to work. So as you run, waste is produced, but each step allows that waste to be removed. During the ON phase of your interval running you are producing much more waste than the OFF phase which is why you feel it in your calves, quads and hamstrings. This is why inflexible inactive people tend to cramp much faster - aside from the fact that their "removal" systems aren't yet upregulated

So in your case during your running, the leg swinging through to the front is the relative "relax" phase, the contraction to hold you up and propel you is the active phase when that pumping mechanism works.

So ideally your routine would be, light conversational jogging for say 5-10 minutes to get warm, PNF stretching or light static stretching, then your workout whatever it is: interval training, fartlek training, long run, tempo run, weight training etc.. THEN when you are finished, do your cooldown THEN do your static stretching.

Muscles always want to shorten, same with all tissues, its that much less energy required for the body to move shorter distances and swing less swings of a limb.

So to answer, do your static stretching for 2-3 sets of 20-30 seconds each stretch after your workout, but if it helps to loosen you up static is perfectly fine before. I personally like static stretching all day whenever I can, but I am very inflexible if i don't stay up on it.

Expert:  SpecialistMichael replied 3 years ago.

Please remember to rate the first answer based on the information provided to your question.

I forgot to add, if you want to chat additionally, please remember to rate the first answer and then reply so we can continue so I can give you more information based on any follow up questions.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

please help me understand how to do proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation stretching

Expert:  SpecialistMichael replied 3 years ago.

Ok so with this we work on a 6:10 ratio but before I explain, I would like you to indicate to me if the very long answer I provided you initially was helpful.


I don't want to overload you with information so just me know if it helped and I will continue to elaborate for you.

SpecialistMichael, MS, CSCS
Category: General
Satisfied Customers: 508
Experience: Senior Information Specialist
SpecialistMichael and 53 other General Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

the answer that you provided me with was good. I would just like to be instructed on exactly how to perform this pre-excersize type of stretch so that i dont over-relax my muscles or whatever. It is very interesting to me.

Expert:  SpecialistMichael replied 3 years ago.
So I'm sure you have your own set of stretches you like, and this can be applied to all of them.

6 seconds of light contraction : 10 seconds of stretching further.

So lets use standing quad stretch as the example. So you bring your leg up to what you feel is a stretched position. Since you are holding your foot/ankle stretching the quad, you contract your quad(pushing into your hand as if to straighten the leg) in that stretched position. You contract for about 6 seconds, then relax and attempt to further your stretch(ie. pull just a little tighter). You will find you are able to further it a bit more, you stretch for 10 seconds in that "new" furthered position.

Then repeat the contract for 6 in that slightly furthered position, then relax again for 10 seconds, again each time trying to gently increase the stretch. Repeat this contract relax cycle 1 more time.

So basically this is contract:relax(6 and 10 seconds respectively) for THREE cycles.

Does this make sense? Just let me know if its clear and helpful for you. I want to be sure you understand.

So in very quick terms, you put the muscle into a comfortable stretch, contract the muscle in that that stretched position, then relax, attempt to further the stretch a little bit and hold that for 10 seconds. THREE sets of this 6 and 10 second contract relax cycle.

Let me know if this is clear and helpful.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

i find it difficult to do the contract part of the stretch for the calves and hamstrings. Also, i find that this type of stretch results in me tightening up more quickly then static stretching does. I think is might be that i am contracting the mucsles to tightly, like a body builder would.

Expert:  SpecialistMichael replied 3 years ago.
With muscles that are super strong, you don't need to contract 100 percent.

Generally when starting people off, I like to recommend a range of 10-50 percent of what they feel their full effort would be.

So if I am stretching a football player, I will put whatever muscle into a stretch and say to them " OK, push back into my hand using 10 percent of your strength" then when get used to the type of stretching, progress to the point where my arm can't hold their leg then teach them how to stretch themselves and the 6:10 ratio.

With calves you might need to progress to a single leg and holding a railing. Calves are insanely powerful and i would be hard contracting to max effort.

Also, each set of 6/10 youre not going to get inches of extra movement each time, it may only be a centimeter or 2, because remember its just a technique to shut off he inhibitory tightness, not actually stretching you heavily.

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