Stretching has been used in all sports, particularly static stretching5. Static stretching is when a muscle is held at end range of motion (ROM) for a period of time in order to increase ROM and flexibility2. The traditional thought regarding the benefit of static stretching is that it may improve range of motion (ROM), decrease delayed onset of muscle soreness (DOMS), reduce the risks of injury and enhance muscle performance. Despite these long held thoughts, recent evidence remains equivocal in the benefit of static stretching. Herbert et al. reported that static stretching before or after exercising has no effect on delayed muscle soreness, but shows a decrease in the risk of injury by 5% 9. Witvrouw et al. conveyed that static stretching programs can significantly influence the viscosity of the tendon and make it significantly more compliant, which may in turn prevent injury in sports with high demands of stretch-shortening cycle 21. Bandy et al reported in their comparison of static stretching and dynamic range of motion of the hamstrings that gains in knee extension from static stretching for 30 seconds once daily for 5 days was almost 3 times the improvement of the dynamic range of motion group2. Moreover, Weijer et at. showed that after static stretching can significantly maintain increased hamstring length for 24 hours with one bout of 30 seconds hold for 3 repetitions 18. Harvey et al. in their system review showed that static stretching over the course of a day increase joint ROM by 8 degrees8. However, research has reported that static stretching to be detrimental to the muscular power aspect of an athletic performance.

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Recent research has shown a decrease in muscle performance related to explosive motions such as sprinting and vertical jump. They conveyed that static stretching decreases muscular stiffness by decreasing muscle-length tension due to elongation of the muscle fibers and decrease muscle activation 3, 16, 20.   Most of all, static stretching has shown to compromise force production (power) and force output 3, 16, 20. Winchester et al conveyed in their study that there was a 3% decrease in sprint performance at 40 m when the subjects participated in the static stretching protocol 20.   Brady et al reported that static stretching decreased the benefits from general warm-up when performed immediately before a vertical jump test3.

Static stretching can be a useful warm-up and mental readiness tool for competition and athletic testing, but should not be performed before an explosive movement. Also, research reports that static stretching has been shown to increase muscle length if performed over a period of time.

This information shows that static stretching needs to be implemented and be the focus of training within the off-season and pre-season conditioning program for the optimal benefit for the athlete. Overall, the results of this study are appealing to coaches and trainers, because they provided information on the pros and cons of static stretching and its effects on explosive motions like the vertical jump.

Contributing authors: Dr/ Marvin P. Royal II, PT, DPT, CSCS, CMP, NASM-CPT, RABS, Dr. Mary Ann Wilmarth, PT,DPT,MS,OCS,MTC,Cert.MDT, Dr. Paul Glenn, PT, DPT, OCS, FAAOMPT

 

References

  1. Baechle, T, Earle, R. Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning 2ed. Human Kinectis, 2004
  2. Bandy, W, Irion, J, Briggler, M. The Effect of Static Stretch and Dynamic Range of Motion Training on the Flexibility of the Hamstring Muscles. JOSPT. 27(4): 295-300, 1998
  3. Brady, H, Lambourne, K, The Impact of Different Warm-UP Protocols of Vertical Jump Performance in Male Collegiate Athletes. J Strength and Conditioning Research 22(1) 226-229, 2008
  4. Brazett-Jonnes, D, Gibson, M, McBride, J, Sprint and Vertical Jump Performance Are Not Affected By Six Weeks of Static Stretching Hamstring. J Strength and Conditioning Research, 22(1): 25-31, 2008
  5. Cramer, J, Housh, T, Johnson, G, Weir, J, Beck, T, Coburn, J, An Acute Bout of Static Stretching Does Not Affect Maximal Eccentric Isokinectic Peak Torque, the Joint Angle at Peak Torque, Mean Power, Electromyography, or Mechanomyography. JOSPT 37(3): 130-139, 2007
  6. Fleck, S, Kraemer, W. Designing Resistance Training Programs. 3rd ed. Human Kinetics, 75-76, 2004
  7. Guissard, N, Reiles, F, Effects of Static Stretching and Contract Relax Methods on the Force Production and Jump Performance. Computer Methods in Biomechanics and Biomedical Engineering. 1: 127-128, 2005
  8. Harvey, L, Herbert, R, Crosbie, J, Does Stretching Induce Lasting Increases in Joint ROM? A Systematic Review. Physiotherapy Research International 7(1): 1-13, 2002
  9. Herbert, R. D., Gabriel, M, Effects of Stretching Before and After Exercising on Muscle Soreness and Risk of Injury: Systematic Review. British Medical Journal.com 325: 1-5, 2002
  10. LaRoche, D, Lussier, M, Roy, S, Chronic Stretching and Voluntary Muscle Force. J Strength and Conditioning 22(2): 589-596, 2008
  11. Nelson, AG, Driscoll, NM, Landin, DK, Young, MA, and Schexnayder, IC. Acute Effects of Passive Muscle Stretching on Sprint Performance. J Sports Science 23: 449-454, 2005
  12. Perrin, D, Randolph, Billie J, Webright, W. Comparison of Nonballistic Active Knee Extension in Neural Slump Position and Static Stretch Techniques on Hamstring Flexibility. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 26(1): 8-13, 1997
  13. Pope, R. P., Herbert, R. D., Kirwan, J. D., Graham, B. J., A Randomized Trial of Preexercise Stretching for Prevention of Lower-Limb Injury. Med. and Science In Sports and Exercise. 31(2): 271-277, 2000
  14. Robbins, J., Scheuermann, B., Varying Amounts of Acute Static Stretching and Its Effect on Vertical Jump Performance. Journal of Strength and Condition Research. 22(3): 781-786, 2008
  15. Rubini, E., Costa, A., Gomes, P., The Effects of Stretching on Strength Performanc. Sports Med. 37(3): 213-224, 2007
  16. Siatras, T, Mittas, V, Mameletzi, D, Vamvakoudis, E, The Duration of the Inhibitory Effects with Static Stretching on Quadriceps Peak Torque Production. J Strength and Conditioning Research 22(1): 40-46, 2008
  17. WeeraPong, P, Hume, P, Kolt, G, Stretching: Mechanism and Benefits For Sport Performance and Injury Prevention. Physical Therapy Reviews 9: 189-206, 2004
  18. Weijer, V, Gorniak, G, Shamus, E, The Effect of Static Stretch and Warm-up Exercise on Hamstring Length Over the Course of 24 Hours. JOSPT 33(12): 727-733, 2003
  19. Willardson, J and Burkett, L. The Effects of Different Rest Intervals Between Sets on Volume Components and Strength Gains. Journal of Strength and Condition Research. 22(1): 146-152, 2008
  20. Winchester, J, Nelson, AG, Landin, Dennis, Young, M, Static Stretching Impairs Sprint Performance in Collegiate Track and Field Athletes. J Strength and Conditioning Research 22(1): 13-18, 2008
  21. Witvrouw, E, Mahieu, N, Danneels, L, McNair, P, Stretching and Injury Prevention: An Obsure Relationship. Sports Medicine 34(7): 443-449, 2004
  22. Worrell, T, Smith, T, Winegardner, J, Effect of Hamstring Stretching on Hamstring Muscle Performance. JOPST. 20(3): 154-159, 1994

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