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

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.

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Fig. 1

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

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Acknowledgements

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

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Opplert, J., Babault, N. Acute Effects of Dynamic Stretching on Muscle Flexibility and Performance: An Analysis of the Current Literature. Sports Med 48, 299–325 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40279-017-0797-9

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