Can Stretching Reduce Your Ability To Perform?

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For those who run, workout or play sports; many of you, will stretch before participating in your activity as a warm up.  What if though, those warm up stretches that you’re performing are potentially decreasing your ability to perform?  From this post, you will learn of what type of stretches are being shown to reduce your performance and also, what type of alternate warm up can enhance your performance.

A post in the New York times, http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/04/03/reasons-not-to-stretch/?_r=0, discussed the effects on performance for individual performing a static stretch before their activity.  A static stretch is, one of the most common type of stretch that is known and performed, which is bringing an area of your body to a point of stretch and holding it in that position for a timed interval.  Below is a list of what the studies revealed:

Effects of performing static stretching pre-activity on performance:

-  Reduced jumpers’ height

-  Reduced sprinter’s speed

-  Reduced strength for weight lifters

-  Created feelings of instability and decreased balanced for weight lifters

-  Muscles were less powerful

-  Decreased explosive muscle performance.

From the above results, the question then is; what is a better alternative to warming up to improve performance?  A study in the Journal of Strength and Condition Research, http://www.fascialfitnesstoday.com/Images/McMillian2006_dynamic-staticStretching.pdf, compared the effects of a dynamic warm up with a static-stretching warm up on selected measures of power and agility.  Dynamic warm up from the study was defined as warming up the body through progressive and continuous movements (For examples of a dynamic warm up, click the study link, and scroll down to pg.494).  The study showed that those who performed a dynamic warm up had better results in a performance test then those who performed a static stretch warm up.   The categories within the performance test were T-shuttle run, underhand medicine ball throw for distance and a 5-step jump.

So the next time, you think about going for a run or hitting the gym or playing your favorite sports; try performing a dynamic warm up instead of a static stretch warm up and see if you can notice a difference in your performance.  If you are currently working with a personal trainer, coach, physical therapist or any other specialist to improve your activity, please seek their advice as well.  If you would like further inquire about how to improve your performance give me a call at 516-387-6239 or email me at ekimdpt47@gmail.com.

Eric Kim, DPT