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PROTRACK » Coaching & Training » To stretch or not to stretch

To stretch or not to stretch

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1 To stretch or not to stretch on Sun Oct 30, 2011 1:49 pm

Mex

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I was listening to SEN earlier today and they had an 'expert' on discussing the benefits, or lack there of, of stretching. He suggested the current research says that not only does static stretching before exercies not help, but in some instances can lead to injury. He also suggested that in explosive sports, such as sprinting, that static stretching before competing may actually prevent an athlete from performing at their best.

So I pose the following questions to other readers;
Have you heard of any research that backs this up?
Have you modified your training/competition day warm up based on 'current' research?
Do you incorporate more dynamic stretching than static stretching in you routine?

2 Re: To stretch or not to stretch on Sun Oct 30, 2011 7:07 pm

Dynamic

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You will find all research over the past decade observing static vs dynamic stretches and its effect on power based activities will support the notion that static stretching inhibits maximum power output.

If you type in the above to google scholar - you will find PLENTY of articles to read. Below is a link to the 1st result shown
http ://journals.lww.com/nsca-jscr/abstract/2007/08000/the_acute_effects_of_combined_static_and_dynamic.22.aspx

Another thing to note is watching an AFL team warm up on the ground prior to a match - when was the last time you saw a team sit down in a circle and perform static stretches for an extended period of time. I know AFL is an endurance based sport although some principles apply.

Stokesy

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I stretch before running:
- to warm up big muscles without using much energy
- to loosen tight muscles
- to avoid injuries.

It works for me.

Because I have heard that stretching reduces power, I have a routine where I finish all the big stretches one hour before running, then I keep well rugged up to stay warm.

4 Re: To stretch or not to stretch on Sun Oct 30, 2011 10:17 pm

Blah

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You're oversimplifying a complex topic here.

Yes, excessive static stretching can diminish maximal power output by a very small percent, but an athlete does not need to stretch to max pain threshold on competition day, nor do they need to stretch for anything beyond 6-10 seconds.

As for AFL footballers, they do plenty of stretching before games - but they have the luxury of doing it in the rooms well ahead of the on-field warm-up component. Do you really think they'd risk the load a drop kick places on a hamstring in often sub-10 degree weather without a comprehensive warm-up including static stretching?

5 Re: To stretch or not to stretch on Sun Nov 06, 2011 2:54 pm

Wizard

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The following is based on systematic research reviews (most valid for of evidence) and some additional primary research.
It is true, static stretching will inhibit maximum power output, therefore if you are a short distance runner you wont be operating at your maximum.
Dynamic stretching however, does not inhibit mpo. Dynamic aswell as static stretching BOTH acutely increase muscle flexibility. Although static has a greater effect, flexibility is sill significantly increased with a dynamc warm up. To avoid injurie as well as avoiding a drop in power, a dynamic warm up is the obvious choice. A static stretching routine involving holding a stretch for approximately 30 seconds once a day will provide maximum increases in CHRONIC flexibility. This is best performed after exercise while blood flow to the muscles is still high. If you have worked on your flexibility prior to competition days you shouldnt be concerned with thorough static stretching before a race anyway. A dynamic warm up will provide the muscle lengthening you need.
And just for you Stokesy - Static stretching doesnt warm up the muscles, it just stretches them... You're not actually moving them, not increasing blood flow and thus warmth to the area from an acute response to exercise.

6 Re: To stretch or not to stretch on Mon Nov 07, 2011 5:17 pm

Old Pro

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As an underage amateur sprinter in the 80's static stretching before racing was the norm. When I switched to a pro coach the 1st night he told me to get off my arse and get moving. That static stretching pre-race or pre-training would not help you warm up. This was not based on any formal research. Just years and years of training experience.

Interesting to read some 30 years later the research backing up his statements.

I think some old pro coaches are not given the credit they deserve for understanding how to train someone to run fast and having their training philosophies discarded. Insert speed ball training as an example.

Personally I tore a few hammies in my time - mid career & was always sore - I then stopped static stretching all together and only ever did dynamic stretching and had much less 'soreness'. Worked for me. Got good range through the dynamic movements on the track and in the gym.

At lastly there is the famous Percy Cerutty who threw a bucket of water at his cat when his students were present but the cat leaped up and was well gone before it could get wet. Percy asked, "Did the cat stretch or jog about before it sprinted off at speed? Did it stretch? Nope, it just sprinted!"

7 Re: To stretch or not to stretch on Mon Nov 07, 2011 6:04 pm

Bumble Bee Man

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You couldn't be more true "Old Pro" Old Pro coaches often do not get enough respect yet their results speak for themselves. Perfect example is JH. Gets heaps of scrutiny, yet gets the results time and time again.

8 Re: To stretch or not to stretch on Mon Nov 07, 2011 6:06 pm

Victor

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At lastly there is the famous Percy Cerutty who threw a bucket of water at his cat when his students were present but the cat leaped up and was well gone before it could get wet. Percy asked, "Did the cat stretch or jog about before it sprinted off at speed? Did it stretch? Nope, it just sprinted!"

I've heard this quote several times in the past 12yrs, all from pro coaches, not sure why, but its ridiculous.

I agree with the dynamic approach which is the current norm etc. However, we are not animals. Most 'cats', cheetah, house cats, lions; plus other agile animals; gazelles etc, have elastic properties which are embedded in their physiology and skeletal structure, to allow them to do what you have written above "it just sprinted".

I've seen Powell run in Melb twice. Warmed up for about an hour. Can be done; i wouldnt recommend it for my athletes; unless temp is excessively hot.

9 Re: To stretch or not to stretch on Sat Nov 12, 2011 3:22 pm

Guest

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Greatful for this post, did some research and put it into practice with almost instant results, apart from the groin strain in the 120m heat (hence no good in the semi) at Henley, so like my groin might need to tweak what we do it a little.

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