The effects of different durations of static stretching within a comprehensive warm-up on voluntary and evoked contractile properties
Centre for Exercise and Sports Science Research
Evidence for performance decrements following prolonged static stretching (SS) has led to a paradigm shift in stretching routines within a warm-up. Rather than SS, dynamic stretching (DS) and dynamic activity (DA) have replaced SS within warm-up routines. The objective of the present study was to compare the effect of differing lower limb SS durations (30 [SS30s], 60 [SS60s] or 120 s [SS120s] of SS per muscle group or no-stretch control) within a comprehensive warm-up protocol consisting of aerobic activity, DS and DA. Sixteen male participants completed the four stretching conditions in a randomized order, after a 5-min low-intensity (cycle) warm-up and before a DS/DA component on separate days. Tests included passive hip and knee ranges of motion (ROM), maximum voluntary knee extensor/flexor force, force produced at 100 ms (F100), vertical jump height and evoked knee extensor contractile properties. For hip flexion (hamstrings) ROM, SS120s provided the largest increase (5.6–11.7%) followed by SS60s (4.3–11.4%), control (4.4–10.6%) and SS30s (3.6–11.1%). For knee flexion (quadriceps) ROM, SS30s provided the largest increase (9.3–18.2%) followed by SS120s (6.5–16.3%), SS60s (7.2–15.2%) and control (6.3–15.2%). There were decreases in quadriceps F100 following SS in SS120s (29.6%) only. There were increases in vertical jump performance in the control (6.2%), SS60s (4.6%) and SS30s (3.3%). While 120 s SS per muscle increased ROM, even within a comprehensive warm-up routine, it also elicited notable performance decrements. However, moderate durations of SS were observed to improve ROM whilst either having negligible or beneficial (but not detrimental) effects on specific aspects of athletic performance.