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Benefits of stretching? How to warm up before exercise?

  1. Apr 28, 2008 #1

    More lifestyle optimization! For the past year, I have basically completely stopped stretching before I run (I run about 5 miles a day). And the reason was basically that Wikipedia article which says that

    I have not had any major injuries this year, so I will probably just continue the no stretching routine. But please tell me if you think that is a bad idea. Of course, Wikipedia is probably not the best source and PF probably is not much better but anyway...

    Since my other lifestyle optimizations have been so popular here :confused:, I thought I would share this one as well.
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 28, 2008 #2


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    Warming up is important (like starting out walking before running). Stretching while "cold" can be harmful (stretching adds a different element to your excersise routine...flexibility). The three components of fitness are flexibility, endurance and strength. You get the endurance from aerobic activities like running, some strength, but only for limited muscle groups. Flexibility is important to avoid injuries due to overly tight muscles...like hamstring pulls. Usually those injuries don't come from the normal exercise, but from a slip or sudden turn or trip, which is where being flexible prevents injury.
  4. Apr 28, 2008 #3
    I stopped stretching as well, with no injury either. Of course I optimized further, I stopped running too. Next, I plan to stop bathing. It all adds up to more quality couch time during which I ponder further optimizations.
  5. Apr 28, 2008 #4


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    I'm glad all you want to do with your spare time is sit on the couch, because none of the rest of us wants to be around you when you stop bathing (at least you gave up running before giving up bathing; it might take an extra day before you get funky smelling).

    I don't run either. For someone who is worried about wasting time on anything but mulling math and physics, it strikes me odd that running would still be on the to-do list. I try to get my exercise doing more useful things...oh, I dunno, like getting the food shopping done and cooking, doing the yardwork and housekeeping, etc. :wink: :biggrin:
  6. Apr 28, 2008 #5
    Yeah, I've ran at least a mile everyday for about the past three years and I can't remember the last time I'd actually stretched beforehand. It had nothing to do with "optimizing", but who knows. Maybe every human has a natural tendency to optimize their lifestyle unconsciously.:rolleyes:
  7. Apr 28, 2008 #6
    Running makes perfect sense for me. I spend enormous amounts of time at my desk working on math and physics problems. I realize that if I do NOTHING else my heart and lungs will probably collapse from lack of use. I want to prevent that while wasting the shortest amount of time.

    Do I play soccer? No. Too much time wasted waiting for action. Too much time wasted developing coordination skills that will not help me do math or physics and that will not save my heart or lungs and that will not prolong my life.

    Do I lift weights. No. Anaerobic exercise won't save my heart and longs. I have no reason to want large muscles.

    How do I give my body the necessary revitalization that I need to spend the next 8 hours at my desk? Running of course.

    Does that make sense Moonbear?

    Furthermore, I want to live as long as possible so that I can continue to do math and physics. Running is very compatible with that goal.

    Sometime this summer I will expound my entire life philosophy (except religious beliefs) here on PF and everything will make more sense then.
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2008
  8. Apr 28, 2008 #7


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    But why not do something else useful WHILE you exercise? For example, bike to campus for your classes, so you combine exercise with transportation.

    I'm not begrudging you your mental downtime if running is something you enjoy doing. Indeed, if you prefer skipping the time spent at a barber's in favor of running, great for you. It just seemed inconsistent with your other posts and even the premise of this one that you're trying to optimize the time spent on anything other than math and physics. And, yes, you need exercise of some sort, I just thought you might be more inclined to get it while accomplishing something else that needs to get done to save some time in the day.

    Actually, I think it's good you do something that gives you time to let your mind wander. Maybe you could join a running club so you get your exercise and some social interaction at the same time so you don't wake up one day feeling alone in the world. Since you're using that time for something other than your work anyway, why not?
  9. Apr 28, 2008 #8
    I can't do anything else while I am running because it is so painful and exhausting that I cannot concentrate on anything else. Believe me, I have tried. I have tried to run on a treadmill and read a book but it just does not work because I just can't focus on it. I have tried listening to lectures when I run but that also failed. As you said it let's my mind wander. In fact, it forces my mind to wander.

    BTW, when I say run I don't mean like power walk or anything. I mean really run. I just push myself through five miles of an intense sweaty race against myself.

    I don't really want to join a running club for the following reasons. It is not like I am going to have a conversation while I am running. After I run, I don't want to sit around and talk about how "good" my run was, I want to get back to work. Furthermore, I don't run at regular times, basically I run when I am getting stressed mentally from my work or physically from sitting down too long.

    I live in a dorm at a university, so everywhere I need to go is like a less-than-five minute walk. Sometimes I do run to classes as well.
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2008
  10. Apr 28, 2008 #9


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    Like Moonbear mentioned, stretching before hand is not as important as warming up. As a matter of fact, my wife has shown me multiple studies that show that static stretching has an almost relaxing effect when done as most people do it, i.e. static stretching.

    However, remember this...you're young. That's not going to last. There is a saying in yoga circles: "You are as young as your spine is supple." You won't believe that now, but believe me, at 30-40 years old, you'll understand. Also I know a lot of runners that are incredibly inflexible. They can run like the wind, but they are pretty rigid. You can talk about optimizing all you want, but in the end, balance in what you do is paramount.

    If you want a great book on how to really stretch, read Tom Kurtz's book on stretching (Stretching Scientifically). He talks about how and when to stretch properly for lifelong flexibility.
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2008
  11. Apr 28, 2008 #10
    Try optimizing your time by not making these silly threads. You could probably save a few days.
  12. Apr 29, 2008 #11


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    Since you're running 5 miles, I doubt you're breaking into an immediate sprint with cold muscles, so, yes, stretching isn't that important. It's more important to give yourself a little time for your muscles to warm up before really pushing yourself. In fact, you really have to warm up a little before stretching would do you much good even in a sport where you need flexibility or the capability to break out in an all-out sprint at any time.

    AAAUUUGGHHH!!!!!!! :surprised What's wrong with you??!! Soccer is great! :mad:

    Actually, this is the best idea of all. I'd be a little scared to be bicycling on the two-lane road I use to get to work now, but when I worked elsewhere, I used to do this all the time. It was perfect. The trip to work tended mostly downhill, so you didn't exhaust yourself on the way to work. That also meant you had a mostly uphill trip home with a couple big hills which gave you enough of a workout to burn off any stress from work.

    It became pretty addicting. I'd ride whenever the temperature was above 25 degrees and the roads were clear of snow (the wind on your face can get pretty brutal much below 25). During extended cold spells, I'd sometimes ride at even lower temperatures just because it was hard to go very many days without the ride.
  13. Apr 29, 2008 #12


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    Um - this is not necessarily correct. Actually activities like soccer will help improve cardio-pulmonary efficiency, and will improve prospects for longevity. Diet and exercise go hand in hand.

    One can do weight training, which is beneficial. One does not need to build large muscles, which is body building, and that is entirely different than weight-training.

    Studies have shown correlation between exercise and mental alertness/acuity. Apparently muscle use stimulates the cerebral cortex.

    Running 5 miles per day is good exercise.

    As for stretching, it helps to keep the body limber. It makes a difference in later years, and so does having toned rather than large muscles.
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2008
  14. Apr 29, 2008 #13


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    Best advice so far. :biggrin:
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