Static stretching involves holding a position for an extended period of time, usually 30 seconds or more. Some athletes engage in static stretching before or during their strength training workouts to improve range of motion. Should static stretching be used in this way?
The effects of static stretching on strength were examined by Borges Bastos et al. (2013). Participants were 30 adults with training experience who followed a supervised, progressive strength training program 3 times a week for 10 weeks.
Participants were randomly assigned to one of three groups:
- Static stretching before the day’s strength training workout
- Static stretching between sets
- No static stretching
Stretches targeted the muscle groups that were to be emphasized in the strength training exercises that followed. For each stretch, only one set was performed, and stretches were held for 30 seconds.
Strength increases (8 repetition maximum) after the 10-week training program were measured for four exercises: bench press, lat pull-down, leg extension, and leg curl.
- After 10 weeks, participants who did not perform stretching exercises experienced strength gains in all four exercises
- Those who stretched before or during their workouts experienced strength gains in only two or one of the four exercises, respectively
- For all four exercises, strength gains were greatest for the “no stretching” group
The data indicate that static stretching before or during a strength training workout is likely to impair strength gains. Earlier studies that found positive effects of static stretching on strength gains had participants perform strength and stretching workouts on different days. Athletes who desire greater flexibility should use avoid using static stretches before or during their strength workouts.
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Source: Borges Bastos, C. L., Miranda, H., Vale, R. G. S., Portal, M. D. N., Gomes, T. M., Novaes, J. S., & Winchester, J. B. (2013). Chronic effect of static stretching on strength performance and basal serum IGF-1 levels. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 27(9), 2465–2472.