Sports Medicine

, Volume 48, Issue 2, pp 299–325 | Cite as

Acute Effects of Dynamic Stretching on Muscle Flexibility and Performance: An Analysis of the Current Literature

Review Article

Abstract

Stretching has long been used in many physical activities to increase range of motion (ROM) around a joint. Stretching also has other acute effects on the neuromuscular system. For instance, significant reductions in maximal voluntary strength, muscle power or evoked contractile properties have been recorded immediately after a single bout of static stretching, raising interest in other stretching modalities. Thus, the effects of dynamic stretching on subsequent muscular performance have been questioned. This review aimed to investigate performance and physiological alterations following dynamic stretching. There is a substantial amount of evidence pointing out the positive effects on ROM and subsequent performance (force, power, sprint and jump). The larger ROM would be mainly attributable to reduced stiffness of the muscle–tendon unit, while the improved muscular performance to temperature and potentiation-related mechanisms caused by the voluntary contraction associated with dynamic stretching. Therefore, if the goal of a warm-up is to increase joint ROM and to enhance muscle force and/or power, dynamic stretching seems to be a suitable alternative to static stretching. Nevertheless, numerous studies reporting no alteration or even performance impairment have highlighted possible mitigating factors (such as stretch duration, amplitude or velocity). Accordingly, ballistic stretching, a form of dynamic stretching with greater velocities, would be less beneficial than controlled dynamic stretching. Notwithstanding, the literature shows that inconsistent description of stretch procedures has been an important deterrent to reaching a clear consensus. In this review, we highlight the need for future studies reporting homogeneous, clearly described stretching protocols, and propose a clarified stretching terminology and methodology.

Abbreviations

BS

Ballistic stretching

CMJ

Countermovement jump

DE

Dynamic exercise

DJ

Drop jump

DS

Dynamic stretching

DWU

Dynamic warm-up

EMG

Electromyography

FDE

Fast dynamic exercise

ISOK

Isokinetic dynamometer

MTU

Muscle–tendon unit

NS

No stretching

PAP

Post-activation potentiation

PNF

Proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation

PT

Peak torque

RM

Repetition maximum

ROM

Range of motion

RSA

Repeated sprint ability

SDE

Slow dynamic exercise

SS

Static stretching

Notes

Acknowledgements

The authors gratefully acknowledge Dr. Gerald G. Pope for carefully reviewing the manuscript and for correcting the English.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Funding

No sources of funding were used to assist in the preparation of this review.

Conflict of interest

Jules Opplert and Nicolas Babault have no conflicts of interest to declare.

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.INSERM CAPS, UMR 1093, Faculté des Sciences du SportUniversité de Bourgogne-Franche-ComtéDijon CedexFrance
  2. 2.Centre d’Expertise de la Performance, Faculté des Sciences du SportUniversité de Bourgogne-Franche-Comté Dijon CedexFrance

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