Unilateral hamstrings static stretching can impair the affected and contralateral knee extension force but improve unilateral drop jump height
Prolonged static stretching (SS) in isolation (no dynamic warm-up) can impair muscle performance. There are conflicting reports whether impairments are present in antagonist and contralateral muscles. The objective of this study was to assess the effect of unilateral hamstrings SS on ipsilateral stretched and contralateral limbs’ strength and jump power.
The SS (four repetitions of 30-s) and control sessions involved unilateral testing of the stretched leg and contralateral leg for knee extension (KE) maximum voluntary isometric contraction (MVIC) force and electromyography (EMG), drop jump (DJ) height and contact time at 1-min post-stretching.
There were significant KE MVIC force impairments for both the SS (p = 0.006, d = 0.3, − 8.1%) and contralateral (p = 0.02, d = 0.20, − 4.2%) leg. With normalized data, there was a near-significant (p = 0.1), small magnitude (d = 0.29), greater force impairment with the ipsilateral (93.0 ± 12.8% of pre-test) versus the contralateral (96.2 ± 9.1% of pre-test) KE MVIC force. DJ height significantly improved for the stretched leg (p = 0.03, d = 0.18, + 9.2%) with near-significant, improvements for the contralateral leg (p = 0.06, d = 0.22, + 12.1%). For the stretched leg, DJ contact time was significantly (p = 0.04, d = 0.18, + 3.4%) prolonged, but there was no significant change with the contralateral leg.
Unilateral hamstrings SS induced strength deficits in the ipsilateral and contralateral knee extension MVIC and a prolongation of the stretched leg DJ contact period. In anticipation of maximal force outputs, prolonged SS in isolation (no dynamic warm-up included) can have negative consequences on antagonist and contralateral muscle performance.
KeywordsFlexibility Strength Power Range of motion Crossover
Maximal voluntary isometric contraction
Physical Activity Participation Questionnaire
Root mean square
Range of motion
Revolutions per minute
Data collection, analysis, interpretation and review of manuscript: SLC, RLSB, MJC, DP, TC, JDY. Supervisor, statistical analysis, interpretation, write the original version of the manuscript: DB.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare no conflict of interest with the contents of this.
- Amann M, Venturelli M, Ives SJ, McDaniel J, Layec G, Rossman MJ, Richardson RS (2013) Peripheral fatigue limits endurance exercise via a sensory feedback-mediated reduction in spinal motoneuronal output. J Appl Physiol (1985) 115(3):355–364. https://doi.org/10.1152/japplphysiol.00049.2013 Google Scholar
- Andreacci JL, Cohen SL, Urbansky EA, Chelland SA, Von Duvillard SP (2002) The effects of frequency of encouragement on performance during maximal exercise testing. J Sport Sci 20:345–352Google Scholar
- Behm DG (2018) The science and physiology of flexibility and stretching: implications and applications in sport performance and health. Routledge Publishers, LondonGoogle Scholar
- Behm DG, St-Pierre DM (1997) The muscle activation-force relationship is unaffected by ischaemic recovery. Can J Appl Physiol 22(5):468–478Google Scholar
- Behm DG, Button DC, Butt JC (2001) Factors affecting force loss with prolonged stretching. Can J Appl Physiol 26(3):261–272Google Scholar
- Behm DG, Bambury A, Cahill F, Power K (2004) Effect of acute static stretching on force, balance, reaction time, and movement time. Med Sci Sports Exerc 36(8):1397–1402Google Scholar
- Crone C, Nielson J (1989) Spinal mechanisms in man contributing to reciprocal inhibition during voluntary dorsiflexion of the foot. J Physiol (Lond) 116:255–272Google Scholar
- da Silva JJ, Behm DG, Gomes WA, Silva FH, Soares EG, Serpa EP, Vilela Junior Gde B, Lopes CR, Marchetti PH (2015) Unilateral plantar flexors static-stretching effects on ipsilateral and contralateral jump measures. J Sports Sci Med 14(2):315–321Google Scholar
- Delwaide PJ, Toulouse P, Crenna P (1981) Hypothetical role of long-loop reflex pathways. Appl Neurophysiol 44(1–3):171–176Google Scholar
- Dintiman G, Ward B (2003) Sport speed. Human Kinetics, Windsor ONGoogle Scholar
- Gandevia SC (2001) Spinal and supraspinal actors in human muscle fatigue. Physiol Rev 81(4):1725–1789Google Scholar
- Lima BN, Lucareli PR, Gomes WA, Silva JJ, Bley AS, Hartigan EH, Marchetti PH (2014) The acute effects of unilateral ankle plantar flexors static- stretching on postural sway and gastrocnemius muscle activity during single-leg balance tasks. J Sports Sci Med 13(3):564–570Google Scholar
- Marchetti PHR, Gomes WA, da Silva WA, Soares EG, de Freitas FS, Behm DG (2017) Static-stretching of the pectoralis major decreases tríceps brachii activation during a maximal isometric bench press. Gazzetta Medica Italiana in pressGoogle Scholar
- Marchetti PH, Silva FH, Soares EG, Serpa EP, Nardi PS, Vilela Gde B, Behm DG (2014) Upper limb static-stretching protocol decreases maximal concentric jump performance. J Sports Sci Med 13(4):945–950Google Scholar
- Perry J, Bekey GA (1981) EMG-force relationships in skeletal muscle. CRC Crit Rev Biomed Eng 7:1–21Google Scholar
- Sherrington CS (1910) Flexion-reflex of the limb, crossed extension reflex stepping and standing. JPhysiol 40:28–121Google Scholar
- Torres EM, Kraemer WJ, Vingren JL, Volek JS, Hatfield DL, Spiering BA, Ho JY, Fragala MS, Thomas GA, Anderson JM, Hakkinen K, Maresh CM (2008) Effects of stretching on upper body muscular performance. J Strength Cond Res 22(4):1279–1285Google Scholar