Alex muscles before running to prevent an injury. Before

Alex Lee

6th December, 2017

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ENG 101-11

Research Paper

The Importance of
Stretching

            Most
distance runners stretch, but many do not feel the need to do any type of
stretching before their run. Choosing not to stretch before running long
distances can cause injury to a runner’s knee, or tendons in the knee. These
injuries can cause permanent damage and much pain. Distance runners should
stretch to increase flexibility, improve elasticity, and relax muscles before
running to prevent an injury.

            Before
running, distance runners should stretch to increase flexibility that, in turn,
will help improve a runners stride. When a runner stretches, muscles become
familiar with being extended and stretched. This gives muscles the ability to
detect when an extra stretch is needed or if a contraction is needed, “if the stretch is perceived as dangerous, the
intrafusal fibers contract causing the extrafusal fibers to contract, thus
stopping the stretch” (Katch). When a runner becomes more flexible their muscles
can recognize the stretching taking place, and thus the body can prevent an
over stretch, improving the stride of a runner. The body does this by using
muscle spindles that control how far ones muscles can stretch. In addition to
the muscle spindles, the body has Golgi tendons that control muscle tension, “when
they sense too much tension on the muscle, they cause a reflex inhibition of
the muscle, causing the muscle to relax thus protecting the muscle and tendon
form injury caused by excessive load” (Katch).  If runners do not
stretch, these muscle functions will not operate and the stride will not be
able to improve, or made better.  Not
only does increasing flexibility better a runners stride, it improves
elasticity also.

            When
runners stretch it improves elasticity, which can increase performance. Energy
is stored in the muscles while stretching, “observations on stiffness and muscle
functions are based on measurements of active stiffness” (Thys 354). When
muscles are stiff and not properly stretched before activity energy cannot be
stored to its entirety, but when muscles are stretched it provides a larger
area for energy to be stored. By allowing this to happen runners that stretch
provide their muscles an availability to more energy. This allows the runner to
go a further distance without his or her muscles becoming fatigued. This is important
to runners because performance is often disrupted by fatigue. Improving
elasticity increases energy storage and performance, but relaxing the muscles
should also be done before running long distances.

            Runners
that stretch also provide relaxation to the muscles affected during stretching,
improving function and preventing overuse. This should be important to distance
runners because if the muscles are tight it can cause over usage. One way
runners can relax the leg muscles is by doing a brief warm up before running. By
performing a warm up runners increase the effectiveness of their muscles, “increasing
core and muscle temperature, which improves neuromuscular function” (Young 33).
By relaxing the muscle completely runners are able to use their muscles entirely,
and provide the opportunity to use the muscles full strength. When muscles are activated
in running and also have tension in them, they cannot function normally. This is
due to the fact that the muscles in the leg cannot flex and extend properly.
When relaxed, muscles can fully extend to a safe length and contract safely
without overusing the muscle.

            Stretching
before running long distances is very important. Without stretching runners
muscles cannot function properly, or fully exert energy. Stretching also allows
muscles to store greater amounts of energy that can later be useful. Distance
runners should stretch to become more flexible, allow better elasticity, and to
provide muscle relaxation to prevent injury. Failure in performing these things
before running can result in an injury, or tear, to a muscle or tendon vital in
running. Any distance runner that does not want to cause one of these injuries
needs to effectively stretch before running.

 

 

Works Cited

Bracko, Michael R. “Can Stretching Prior to
Exercise and Sports Improve Performance and Prevent Injury?” ACSM’s Health
& Fitness Journal, vol. 6, no. 5, 2002, pp. 17-22.

Gleim, Gilbert W, and Malachy P. McHugh.
“Flexibility and Its Effects on Sports Injury and Performance.”
Nicholas Institute of Sports Medicine and Athletic Trauma, 1997.

Thys, Henri, et al. “The Role Played by
Elasticity in an Exercise Involving Movements of Small Amplitude.”
Pflügers Archiv European Journal of Physiology 354.3 (1975): 281-286.

Young, Warren B, and David G. Behm. “Should
Static Stretching Be Used During a Warm-Up for Strength and Power
Activities?” Strength & Conditioning Journal, vol. 24, no. 6, 2002, pp.
33-37.

Hreljacm, Alan, et al. “Evaluation of Lower
Extremity Overuse Injury Potential in Runners.” Medicine & Science in
Sports & Exercise, 1999.

McArdle, William D, et al. “Exercise Physiology:
Nutrition, Energy, and Human Performance.” Lippincott Williams & Wilkins,
2010.