Runners Need to Stretch! By Dr. Paul Baird.

I have been asked to share some experiences that I have had with some of my patients as it relates to running and how you can maximize your potential as you prepare for the Grand Teton Relay. Let’s start with Frank (name has been changed for HIPPA regulations).  I first met Frank about a week or two after he had run the Boston Marathon.  He came to the office because of some increased low back pain. As we talked he related the following experience. “I flew out to Boston to run the marathon, I had a great time running, but then as soon as I was finished I had to hop into the car, take it back to the airport and fly home. And ever since then I have had this low back pain.”

During my exam I found a couple of things.  First there was some stress on the nerves of the low back which were causing the pain. Second, Frank’s quadriceps and hamstrings were tight like a cord. So I asked about his stretching routine.  Come to find out he had none.  It was, “I stretch a little before I run, but I am super busy and don’t have time to stretch.” So what had happened? He had run the Boston Marathon, hadn’t stretched, got into the plane and sat for several hours while every muscle in his body tightened up which led to a significant increase in the stress on the nerves which caused his low back pain.

What did we do for Frank? We started him on a course of chiropractic care to reduce the stress on the nerves of the low back, and then we set up a flexibility/stretching  program for him to follow at home. It was amazing what happened for Frank once we did this.  Not only did the low back pain go away, but his performance improved and he continued to participate in his sport.

The moral of the story? IF you want to reach your peak potential and minimize the stresses on your body from running…you must have a flexibility/stretching program that is as important as your training program. A significant portion of injuries come as a result of people trying to do what they have always done while their muscles continually shorten from lack of flexibility. This will increases their chances of strains/sprains and injuries.

So Tip for today: make a commitment to add a flexibility/stretching program into your daily routine. Between now and the relay, I will be giving specific instructions, stretches and ideas to help you reach your peak performance. If you have any questions, I can be contacted by email at

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