Does Acute Static Stretching Reduce Muscle Power?


Context: Stretching is commonly used as a technique for injury prevention in the training and clinical setting. Recently, stretching in the warm-up has been shown to decrease several muscular performance variables, but the dose-response of this effect is unknown and moreover these stretching bouts are not representative of athletes during warm up procedures, as they are usually time consuming. Our findings may improve the understanding of the neuromuscular responses to stretching and help sportsmen, coaches, physiotherapist and clinicians make decisions for integrating stretching as a part of warm up or rehabilitation treatment plan.

Purpose: The aim of the present study was to examine whether acute static stretching is responsible for losses in isokinetic peak torque production and if it does, than which time of stretching effect muscle peak torque?

Design: Randomized, counterbalanced, within-subjects experimental design.

Setting: A university human project laboratory.

Methods: Twenty (n=20) light to moderate young exercisers, male and female, from University of Limerick community, with an average age of 22.1±3.6 years, height of 175.6±5 cm, and weight of 73.1±9.9 kg, were randomly selected to take part in the study. Prior to the main study, volunteers attended the lab on two occasions to be familiarized with the knee extension protocol on the Con - trex isokinetic system and with the static stretching protocol. All participants than performed five additional static stretching protocols randomly, in non-consecutive training session. The stretching protocols were 0, 60,120, 180 and 180 with alternative pattern.

Results: The results of the statistical analysis (P > 0.05) indicated that peak torque remained unchanged following the static stretching for 0-180 sec at 60 & 180° s−1 angular velocities.

Conclusion: The findings suggest that an athletic stretching (shorter duration) ranging from 0-180 sec does not produce decreases in peak torque. Athletes are not at risk of decreasing isokinetic peak torque if they stretching them before exercise.

Keywords: Static stretching, Isokinetic peak torque, angular velocity, concentric and eccentric muscle work, flexibility.

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