The effects of different durations of static stretching within a comprehensive warm-up on voluntary and evoked contractile properties

Abstract

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.

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Fig. 1
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Abbreviations

DA:

Dynamic activity

DS:

Dynamic stretching

EMD:

Electromechanical delay

EMG:

Electromyography

ES:

Effect size

F100:

Peak force produced within first 100 ms

Hz:

Hertz

ICC:

Intraclass correlation coefficient

ITT:

Interpolated twitch technique

MTU:

Musculotendinous unit

MVIC:

Maximal voluntary isometric contraction

PAP:

Post-activation potentiation

ROM:

Range of motion

SS:

Static stretching

SS30s:

Static stretching intervention for 30 s

SS60s:

Static stretching intervention for 60 s

SS120s:

Static stretching intervention for 120 s

VA%:

Percent voluntary activation

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Acknowledgements

We would like to acknowledge the contributions of Dr. Thamir Alkanani for his organization and preparation of the laboratory and equipment. The authors declare that the results of the study are presented clearly, honestly and without fabrication, falsification, or inappropriate data manipulation. There were no conflicts of interest of the authors with the information obtained within the manuscript.

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JCR: formulated research question and experimental design, collected and analyzed data and wrote the manuscript. RMG, JDY, DDH: collected and analyzed data and reviewed the manuscript. AB: formulated research question and experimental design, reviewed and revised manuscript. DGB: formulated research question and experimental design, supervised the data collection and analysis and reviewed and revised manuscript.

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Correspondence to David G. Behm.

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Communicated by Nicolas Place.

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Reid, J.C., Greene, R., Young, J.D. et al. The effects of different durations of static stretching within a comprehensive warm-up on voluntary and evoked contractile properties. Eur J Appl Physiol 118, 1427–1445 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00421-018-3874-3

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Keywords

  • Static stretching
  • Dynamic stretching
  • Range of motion
  • Vertical jump
  • Force