USATF seeks guinea pigs for study on stretching
In recent years, studies have emerged that say stretching before competition doesn’t help performance. Well, USATF took note of this major debate and is doing something about it — launching its own study. This is a great use of the Web and membership. Wonder why it’s never been done before. In any case, why stop with a stretch study? A broad-involvement study could tackle lots of questions, especially in masters track. For example: Is the flop or straddle best for older athletes? Express your own ideas for experimental testing. Maybe we can have our own trials.
The new USATF study is described thusly:
The length of the study is 3 months for each individual. Participants are to follow their assigned protocol (“stretch” or “no-stretch”) for those 3 months and to report injuries during their participation in the study.
You will join the study by filling out a questionnaire that asks for information about your running level and relevant medical status. The information will remain private and be used only for statistical analysis of study results.
You will then be assigned to either a stretching group or a non-stretching group. We ask you to be as diligent as possible in following the protocol for your group before your runs.
The non-stretching group will be asked to continue their normal running habits without a pre-run stretch. If your normal routine is to stretch after or at some other time, you may continue to do so. You may also do pre-run stretching other than the 3 muscle groups under study.
The stretching group will be asked to perform a series of three stretches before each run. If your normal routine is to stretch after or at some other time, you may continue to do so. You may also add other stretches to your pre-run stretching.
If you experience an injury, please report it using the Injury Report Form. An injury is defined as any impairment which prohibits you from participating in your normal running routine for at least 3 days. Injuries should be reported 4 weeks following the injury so we can learn how you handled your injury.
At the end of the study period, you’ll be asked to complete a post-study wrap-up that includes, among other questions, how well you stuck to the protocol for your group and other feedback you have on your experience. If you didn’t have any injuries, you will confirm that at this time.
Risks of participation: This study is important because we don’t know whether a pre-run stretch will cause or prevent injury. It is possible that participants who are assigned to stretch or not stretch will experience more injuries. Also, even if stretching or not stretching is found to prevent injuries, when we analyze the entire group, every individual is different and stretching or not stretching may not prevent you from experiencing an injury. If injuries require medical attention, participants are asked to use the medical services and health insurance that they would be using outside the study. Participants may terminate participation in the study at any time.
Although each participant’s individual role will only last for 3 months, the overall study will be open to new participants until there is enough evidence to make statistically relevant conclusions. The results of the study will be made public and will be valuable to runners throughout the country and throughout the world. We urge those runners, be they sprinters, road runners, trail runners or ultra runners, who would like to contribute to this knowledge, who have no bias about stretching or non-stretching and who otherwise meet the criteria, to visit the USATF website to sign up for the study.