A review of the acute effects of static and dynamic stretching on performance

Abstract

An objective of a warm-up prior to an athletic event is to optimize performance. Warm-ups are typically composed of a submaximal aerobic activity, stretching and a sport-specific activity. The stretching portion traditionally incorporated static stretching. However, there are a myriad of studies demonstrating static stretch-induced performance impairments. More recently, there are a substantial number of articles with no detrimental effects associated with prior static stretching. The lack of impairment may be related to a number of factors. These include static stretching that is of short duration (<90 s total) with a stretch intensity less than the point of discomfort. Other factors include the type of performance test measured and implemented on an elite athletic or trained middle aged population. Static stretching may actually provide benefits in some cases such as slower velocity eccentric contractions, and contractions of a more prolonged duration or stretch-shortening cycle. Dynamic stretching has been shown to either have no effect or may augment subsequent performance, especially if the duration of the dynamic stretching is prolonged. Static stretching used in a separate training session can provide health related range of motion benefits. Generally, a warm-up to minimize impairments and enhance performance should be composed of a submaximal intensity aerobic activity followed by large amplitude dynamic stretching and then completed with sport-specific dynamic activities. Sports that necessitate a high degree of static flexibility should use short duration static stretches with lower intensity stretches in a trained population to minimize the possibilities of impairments.

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Acknowledgments

This research was partially funded by the Natural Science and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) of Canada.

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Correspondence to David G. Behm.

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Communicated by Nigel A.S. Taylor.

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Behm, D.G., Chaouachi, A. A review of the acute effects of static and dynamic stretching on performance. Eur J Appl Physiol 111, 2633–2651 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00421-011-1879-2

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Keywords

  • Flexibility
  • Range of motion
  • Strength
  • Power
  • Sprint