by Shawn Kuster BEd, MKin, CSCS
It is still very common to see coaches and athletes include static stretching as part of their warm-up. This stems from the underlying thought that static stretching before training reduces the risk of injury. Charles Poliquin stated that there is a low relationship (r=0.42) between static flexibility and dynamic flexibility. Since sport movement is typically dynamic in nature, it appears the athletes would be best served by incorporating dynamic movements into their warm-up. According to Angela Calder of the Australian Institute of Sport we should look at functional flexibility to develop efficient movement patterns for a given sport rather than developing flexibility for injury prevention.
Facts Regarding Static Stretching
• The Eastern Block countries have not included static stretching as part of their warm-up since 1976.
• The Australians began to eliminate static stretching from their warm-ups in 1989.
• Although static stretching can increase passive flexibility there is no research that shows static stretching improves the dynamic flexibility required in sport movements, therefore does not appropriately prepare the muscles.
• Recent studies have shown no relationship between static stretching prior to exercise and injuries sustained. In fact, inefficient movements are a major contributor to injuries not flexibility.
• Some studies have shown that static stretching may actually increase an athlete’s risk of injury.
• Studies have shown that a muscle that has been stretched statically takes a longer time to develop force resulting in a loss of power. Power is one of the most important factors for performance in many sports.
• Static stretching immediately after exercise may interfere with the recovery process.
• Please keep in mind that although static stretching may not be the best tool for a warm-up, it still is very valuable for increasing flexibility, its use must be carefully planned into the training schedule just as you would plan your strength and power training.
Courtesy of Sport Medicine & Science Council of Saskatchewan