Impact of Static Stretching on Performance

Original Editor - Ahmed Nasr Top Contributors - Ahmed Nasr, Kim Jackson and Lucinda hampton
A woman doing static stretching

Definition/Description

Static stretching is a type of stretching exercises in which elongation of muscle with application of low force and long duration (usually 30 sec). Static stretching has a relaxation,elongation effect on muscle,improving range of motion (ROM) , decreasing musculotendinous stiffness and also reduce the risk of acute muscle strain injuries.[1][2] It is a slow controlled movement with emphasis on postural awareness and body alignment. It is suitable for all patient types.

Impact of Stretching on Muscle performance

It is a traditional practice to perform static stretching exercises before the main exercise session or main sports events in order to improve muscle performance and minimizing risk of injury. But the recent reviews found that stretching immediately prior to exercise does not prevent injury and can lead to detrimental effect on muscle performance. Therefore performing static stretching before main exercise session or main sport events can lead to decrease in the performance in these subsequent events.[3][4]

To understand how static stretching can lead to decline muscle performance we have to understand the acute effect of static stretching and the effect of regular stretching.

Acute Effects of Static Stretching on Muscle:

  • Decreases the visco-elastic behavior of muscle and tendon only on the short term with no long term effect .[3]
  • Decreases motor neuron excitability through inhibitory effect from the Golgi Tendon organ and by activation of Renshaw recurrent loop (recurrent inhibition).[1]
  • Decreases in the activity of motor unit.[4]
  • Decreases the activity of muscle spindles ,which results in decreasing the activity of stretch reflex. [4][1]
  • Decreases in sensitivity of nociceptors and joint receptors which are fundamental mechanisms for the protection of structures involved in motion.[4]
  • Facilitates types III and IV joint receptors sending inhibitory drive to the α motoneuron pool.[4]

Collectively all these acute changes in the muscle lead to decrease in force production ,performance and increasing in the risk of injury .

Effect of Regular Static Stretching on Muscle:

Regular static stretching exercise shown that it improves force and performance in activities.it`s underlying mechanism is that regular stretching induces muscle hypertrophy.It`s shown that If stretching a muscle group for 30 to 60 s/d over months results in hypertrophy[3]

Summary

The evidence shows that performing static stretching exercises before sports activities lead to decrease the performance and increasing the risk of injury .while in the other hand performing regular stretching exercises lead to improve in force production and performance in all activities[3]

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Micheal A. ,Scott C. NASM's Essentials of Corrective Exercise Training . philadelphia : Wolters Kluwer Health/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins .2011.
  2. Kay AD, Blazevich AJ . Effect of acute static stretch on maximal muscle performance: a systematic review. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.Jan 2012 : 44(1) :154-164.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 I Shrier . Does Stretching Improve Performance?: A Systematic and Critical Review of the Literature. Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine:2004 Sep :14(5) : 267-273.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 Rubini EC , Costa AL , Gomes PS .The Effects of Stretching on Strength Performance . Sports Medicine. 37(3): 213-24 ·