Muscle “elongation” (ore stretching) is hated by many and often viewed as a useless time consuming practice.
Stretching instead is very useful because after elongating the muscles, running movements become more fluid and this will naturally help the athlete to run better, faster and to enjoy the training session.
By performing fluid movements you will consume less energy. It’s a little bit like “lubricating” a gearwheel that has been sitting still for some time: you will be able to use it to the full with less effort. This is also the reason why stretching improves blood supply allowing muscles to be more efficient.
Also, by intervening on the areas that could be particularly tense because of physiological reasons (we only need one stressful day to become more stiff), stretching exercises help muscles to relax. It’s essentially like doing a self-massage.
When you stretch, in any way you prefer doing it, you should never feel pain. NEVER! You only need to feel the “pulling” sensation as the muscle “elongates”. If you feel pain it means you are “doing more”, and it usually means you are doing it wrong. In this case your stretching session will bring no benefits.
Doing a few stretching exercises before and after physical exercise like running, is a good habit…. This will help maintaining muscle elasticity helping them to be ready for the next training session.