The Effects of Stretching on Strength Performance

Abstract

Strength and flexibility are common components of exercise programmes; however, it is not clear how best to include both of these elements in a single training programme. It is common practice among athletes, coaches and recreational exercisers to perform a stretching routine before a strength training session. Stretching exercises are regularly recommended, even in many textbooks, with the claimed purpose of preventing injury and muscle soreness, or even enhancing performance. However, as highlighted in recent review articles, this recommendation lacks scientific evidence. Thus, the purpose of the present review is to determine the acute and chronic effects of stretching on strength performance, together with the underlying mechanisms. Although most studies have found acute decreases in strength following stretching, and that such decreases seem to be more prominent the longer the stretching protocol, the number of exercises and sets, and the duration of each set have, in general, exceeded the ranges normally recommended in the literature. Consequently, the duration of the stimuli were excessively long compared with common practice, thus making evident the need for further studies. In addition, when recommending flexibility exercises, one should consider other underlying issues, such as the safety of the participants, possible increases in injury risks and the unnecessary time expenditure. Many mechanisms underlying stretching exercises still demand investigation so that links between the observed effects, their causes and the consequences may be constructed.

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Acknowledgements

We would like to thank the Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPQ), Ministry of Education, Brazil, for their financial support to Ercole C Rubini. The authors would also like to thank Dr Marta Inez Rodrigues Pereira for the preparation of the English version of the manuscript and Dr Ana Maria Miragaya for reviewing the English version. The authors have no conflicts of interest directly relevant to the content of this review.

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Correspondence to Professor Paulo S. C. Gomes.

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Rubini, E.C., Costa, A.L.L. & Gomes, P.S.C. The Effects of Stretching on Strength Performance. Sports Med 37, 213–224 (2007). https://doi.org/10.2165/00007256-200737030-00003

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Keywords

  • Maximum Voluntary Contraction
  • Peak Torque
  • Plantar Flexor
  • Passive Tension
  • Strength Performance