Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Stop Static Stretching: New Research

Up On The Soapbox Again
The loyal readers of this blog know that I am not a fan of static stretching. I can't understand why you would put a muscle (and joints) at an extreme range of motion (ROM) and wait there for the muscles to get WEAKER. I don't want to teach my body that!

I want to have STRENGTH at an END range of motion.

Remember, your body is uber smart and is CONSTANTLY adapting, so what do you want it to adapt to? This goes for you desk jockeys too cranking your necks to read this screen, so sit up straight (yes Mom), but please do keep reading.

Why Do People Static Stretch?
I think people still do static stretching to some degree because they have nothing else to replace it with.

Here is the big revelation
You can replace all static stretching with precise joint mobility work
(insert Z Health plug here).

Even dynamic mobility drills are much better than static stretching.

On a personal note, I have not done any static stretching for almost 2 years now and I have less pain, more mobility and increased strength (in most exercises) than I ever have before. I know, anecdotal, self reported, n=1.

What To Do Now?
Here is a video showing a hip flexor stretch, then an active mobility drill for the OPPOSITE shoulder. At the end he does a hip flexor stretch again to note the new change in range of motion (see for yourself).

If you are interested in the Z Health R Phase, you can pick it up by clicking on the icon on the upper right. Full disclosure: I do make a few bucks off each sale, but the price is the same to you and I would never recommend anything that sucks.

Here is another brand new study looking at static stretching. If you are still insisting upon doing it, the data below would say that if you are lifting 30 minutes after stretching the reduction in max force will be pretty much gone. I would still like to see people replace static stretching with mobility work.

See these related posts below

The Death of Static Stretching

Human tendon behaviour and adaptation, in vivo.

Stretching and Resistance Training and Tendon Effects

Static Stretching--Good or Bad?

Here is the abstract

Moderate-duration static stretch reduces active and passive plantar flexor moment but not Achilles tendon stiffness or active muscle length

Anthony D. Kay1,2 and Anthony J. Blazevich2,3

J Appl Physiol 106: 1249-1256, 2009. First published January 29, 2009;

1Sport, Exercise and Life Sciences, The University of Northampton, Northampton; 2Centre for Sports Medicine and Human Performance. Brunel University, Uxbridge, United Kingdom; and 3School of Exercise, Biomedical and Health Sciences, Edith Cowan University, Joondalup, Western Australia

The effects of static stretch on muscle and tendon mechanical properties and muscle activation were studied in fifteen healthy human volunteers. Peak active and passive moment data were recorded during plantar flexion trials on an isokinetic dynamometer. Electromyography (EMG) monitoring of the triceps surae muscles, real-time motion analysis of the lower leg, and ultrasound imaging of the Achilles-medial gastrocnemius muscle-tendon junction were simultaneously conducted.

Subjects performed three 60-s static stretches before being retested 2 min and 30 min poststretch.

There were three main findings in the present study.

First, peak concentric moment was significantly reduced after stretch; 60% of the deficit recovered 30 min poststretch. This was accompanied by, and correlated with (r = 0.81; P < style="font-weight: bold;">

These data indicate that the stretching protocol used in this study induced losses in concentric moment that were accompanied by, and related to, reductions in neuromuscular activity, but they were not associated with alterations in tendon stiffness or shorter muscle operating length. Reductions in passive moment were associated with reductions in muscle stiffness, whereas tendon mechanics were unaffected by the stretch. Importantly, the impact on mechanical properties and neuromuscular activity was minimal at 30 min poststretch.