Static Stretching

Posted In: The Classics

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    dark-knight on #30515

    Interesting info…It seems that static stretching purpose can be debatable.

    I'm not going to pretend to understand the science behind why static stretching works. However, the evidence that I have with static stretching is empirical. More specifically, my personal success with static stretching and the observation of static stretching with many elite programs.

    Nevertheless, the info is still interesting…. Thanks!

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    Derrick Brito on #30516

    so mike, how much do you vote for stretching? it seems like you give it more drawbacks than advantages, so what is your stance on it?

    Mike Young
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    Mike Young on #9518

    Something seems to have happened to the original version of this thread that rendered it inaccessible so Iâ??ve deleted the original but will restart the thread since it seemed to be a good one.

    The original thread was started by JohnWiggler who asked if stretching was as important as many make it out to be. To this, several people highlighted some of the benefits and I countered with some of the drawbacks.

    The benefits mentioned were:
    *Increased range of motion and thus increased stride length
    *Increased recovery

    The drawbacks I mentioned were:
    *Decreased power output
    *Decreased maximal strength
    *Altered sensitivity of muscle proprioceptors
    *Increased possibility of joint laxity
    *Increased possibility of tendon and ligament creep
    *Possible increased likelihood of injury
    *Possible occurrence of muscle soreness
    *Possible occurrence of muscle damage

    The following is some of the original thread that I had copied and pasted to a Word document in hopes of responding to the post while away from internet access:

    [i]Originally posted by Dark Knight[/i]
    [quote][i]Originally posted by QUIKAZHELL[/i]
    Mike,
    while i agree with what you are saying as research has shown, i still feel static stretching post workout is very important and since it aids in recvoery there are no negative aspects such as the ones you mentioned (during post workout).

    Iâ??ll take a stab at this:

    Static stretch post exercise to aid recovery and to get muscle back to resting length is a good idea.  I do believe there is a minimum flexibility that all athletes must maintain.[/quote]
    Here is my response��

    I agree that static stretching post workout and even in some instances post warm-up may be beneficial for reasons ranging from physiological to psychological. I also agree that there is a minimum level of flexibility needed for athletic success but I think that MOST athletes already have the necessary level of static flexibility while quite a few lack this level of dynamic flexibility.

    Before I go further though, I have a couple things which need to be cleared up. First of all, increased range of motion through flexibility training is not necessarily the sole result of a lengthened muscle. In fact, increased range of motion can actually be achieved when a muscle is SHORTENED. How is this possible youâ??re probably asking yourselfâ?¦..itâ??s possible due to the fact that range of motion is affected not only by the contractile components of a muscle (muscle belly itself) but also by the elastic components (tendon, muscle membranes, etc.). As such, increased range of motion could and often is achieved when the contractile component of a muscle is shortening or remaining the same length and the elastic components are lengthening (possibly to a greater degree than the contractile components are shortening).

    The second thing that needs to be cleared up is that as far as I know there is no evidence indicating that stretching assists in recovery. This is in spite of the fact that this belief has been widely popularized by both coaches and clinicians. On the contrary, I am aware of several research studies indicating that stretching has NO effect on recovery. And while I am not going to ignore the anecdotal evidence indicating that stretching can enhance recovery, I do look at it skeptically. Recall that not too long there was plenty of anecdotal evidence supporting the notion that stretching immediately prior to an event could improve performance. This anecdotal evidence has since been proven to be at best only conditionally correct and at worst outright wrong. It is likely that the same may be true for the stretching-recovery theory.

    The third thing that Iâ??d like to address is that no one has any accurate idea what â??normal resting lengthâ? actually is. This is because muscle length is dependent on such things as body temperature, time of the day, performance of prior activities, state of arous
    al, etc. As such, there is no true or accurate standard mark indicating â??normal resting lengthâ? because there are so many variables which affect the length of the muscle that its â??normal lengthâ? can never be attained.

    In light of these points static stretching is often not doing what most people think it is doing. By stretching a muscle we are not necessarily “returning it to normal resting length.â? In fact in many cases if the person does not know how to adequately relax the muscle while they are attempting to elongate it, they may in fact induce muscle shortening due to activation of the muscle spindles. Also, as Todd hinted at (in the original version of this thread), even when static stretching is most effective, it should perhaps best be thought of as neuromuscular (relaxation) training rather than muscle elongation training. This is because while it is very well possible to stretch the contractile component of the muscle-tendon unit, it often requires special techniques and experience at learning to relax the muscle.

    Finally, Iâ??d like to go back to the stretching-recovery theory. The common thought behind the stretching for recovery theory is that it can â??open upâ? nutrient and waste pathways to allow for better transport of these materials and facilitate quicker recovery. While this sounds great in theory, I’ve never actually seen anything outside of the realm of Flex magazine that indicates that this actually happens. If someone knows of evidence that I’m overlooking please let me know. One possible reason for this lack of supporting evidence may be because of the above mentioned muscle-tendon relationship. That is, the increased range of motion commonly associated with muscle lengthening (and “opened upâ? nutrient and waste pathways) may actually not be fully representative of muscle elongation. It may in fact be partly due to elongation of the elastic components. Elongated elastic components would not be expected to directly contribute or influence the transport of nutrient and waste byproducts to and from the muscle.

    Please note that I do use static stretching in my programs and do feel that it has a role in a balanced program. I just feel that many of the reasons given and methods of implementing stretching into programs is often for unproven or altogether wrong.

    ELITETRACK Founder

    Mike Young
    Keymaster
    Mike Young on #30517

    [i]Originally posted by cockysprinter[/i]
    so mike, how much do you vote for stretching? it seems like you give it more drawbacks than advantages, so what is your stance on it?

    I think it has it’s place but in my opinion it’s typically overdone in most programs. I do some form of flexibility training every day. The volume, type, and intensity of the stretching that I prescribe depends on the phase of training. For example, in the fall, I prescribe some form of either static or PNF stretching almost every day. This is sometimes complimented by dynamic stretching. As the season progresses, I flip-flop these types of stretching.

    ELITETRACK Founder

    Carl Valle
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    Carl Valle on #30518

    can you give me an example of a good program tha over does stretching?

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    wizzard on #30519

    [i]Originally posted by Phoenix[/i]
    can you give me an example of a good program tha over does stretching?

    or a good program that does not over do stretching..

    can you also explain the differences (if any) between ‘static’ and ‘PNF’ stretching..for those of us that don’t know.. 😛

    regards..

    Wizzard

    Mike Young
    Keymaster
    Mike Young on #30520

    [i]Originally posted by Phoenix[/i]
    can you give me an example of a good program tha over does stretching?

    Carl-
    I never said anything about GOOD programs….I said “MOST” programs….and we all know most programs are not good. Having said that, I do think there are probably quite a few good programs which overdo stretching (in my opinion). Stretching is only one component of a training program and I don’t think it’s enough to turn a good program bad but I do think that it’s an essential component whose placement, volume, and intensity within the session, micro, meso, or macrocycle should be monitored for optimum benefits.

    Wiz-
    Static stretching is flexibility work which involves holding a stretch for 10-30 seconds. PNF stretching is flexibility work which involves using the neuromuscular system to facilitate a desired response within a muscle. This form of stretching usually requires a partner and research has indicated that it produces the greatest increases in flexibility of all of the types of flexibility training. It can also be used as strength or rehabilitative work.

    ELITETRACK Founder

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    Jay Turner on #30521

    Ok first of all, mike in the first post you mention that one of the drawbacks to static stratching is decreased power output and decreased maximal strength. Do you mean there is a decrease in these things on a daily basis, or an OVERALL decrease?

    Secondly, in the first thread about this, I mentioned how I incorporate static stretching. Basically, I do exactly as you do mike. In the fall, it’s mostly static stretching that’s complimented by dynamic stretching. Then once the season starts, I flip-flop the two. In fact, once the season starts, I hardly static stretch at all. I start our session with our dynamic warmup, then the actual workout (maybe short hurdle flexibility mini-session), then we warmdown, then weights. We rarely static stretch afterwards. What do you think about this?

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    wizzard on #30522

    so would an example of PNF stretching be where you are pushing and your ‘partner’ is providing equal resistance??

    thanks in advance..

    Wizzard

    Mike Young
    Keymaster
    Mike Young on #30523

    Wiz-
    If I’m understanding you correctly, yes, that would be a form of PNF…where your partner takes you to a static limit and holds for 5-15 seconds, then you push against the partner by contracting the muscle being stretched for 5-15 seconds, and then relax and hold the stretch (which should be further than the first) for 5-15 seconds.

    DaGov-
    That sounds similar to how I set up my flexibility routines.

    ELITETRACK Founder

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    Jay Turner on #30524

    [i]Originally posted by mike[/i]
    Wiz-
    If I’m understanding you correctly, yes, that would be a form of PNF…where your partner takes you to a static limit and holds for 5-15 seconds, then you push against the partner by contracting the muscle being stretched for 5-15 seconds, and then relax and hold the stretch (which should be further than the first) for 5-15 seconds.

    DaGov-
    That sounds similar to how I set up my flexibility routines.

    Thanks mike,

    Now what about the post you made about decreased power and decreased maximal strength? What exactly did you mean by that? Scroll up to my last post to see the entire question.

    Mike Young
    Keymaster
    Mike Young on #30525

    Static stretching will almost certainly result in a short term decrease in maximum strength and power output. The decrement will be dependent on the intensity and durations of the stretch as well as the duration of time between the conclusion of stretching and the power or strength activity.

    As for long term effects, things get much cloudier. I would imagine that huge increases in flexibility would likely have a negative effect on attempts to increase strength and power. I say this because of how contraction of muscles works and how the contractile components of a muscle can only transmit as much force as the tendons will allow them. This however is said under the assumption that an athlete does not have prior flexibility deficiencies that need addressing. In this type of scenario, large increases in flexibility may very well be necessary. Besides this surface viewpoint, I also look at it in another way. That is, if an athlete is doing heavy and intense stretching routines every day to the point where it is having a short term effect on the power output of the session; training at an acutely decreased power and force output day after day would surely result in a decreased training effect over time.

    I’d be interested to hear others thoughts on the long term effects of stretching on strength and power outputs.

    ELITETRACK Founder

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    Jay Turner on #30526

    [i]Originally posted by mike[/i]
    Static stretching will almost certainly result in a short term decrease in maximum strength and power output. The decrement will be dependent on the intensity and durations of the stretch as well as the duration of time between the conclusion of stretching and the power or strength activity.

    As for long term effects, things get much cloudier. I would imagine that huge increases in flexibility would likely have a negative effect on attempts to increase strength and power. I say this because of how contraction of muscles works and how the contractile components of a muscle can only transmit as much force as the tendons will allow them. This however is said under the assumption that an athlete does not have prior flexibility deficiencies that need addressing. In this type of scenario, large increases in flexibility may very well be necessary. Besides this surface viewpoint, I also look at it in another way. That is, if an athlete is doing heavy and intense stretching routines every day to the point where it is having a short term effect on the power output of the session; training at an acutely decreased power and force output day after day would surely result in a decreased training effect over time.

    I’d be interested to hear others thoughts on the long term effects of stretching on strength and power outputs.

    When you say short term, what exactly is meant by that? Meaning, what kind of time period is “short term”?

    Mike Young
    Keymaster
    Mike Young on #30527

    [i]Originally posted by DaGovernor[/i]
    When you say short term, what exactly is meant by that? Meaning, what kind of time period is “short term”?

    I think the answer you were looking for was within your own post….

    [i]Originally posted by mike[/i]
    The decrement will be dependent on the intensity and durations of the stretch as well as the duration of time between the conclusion of stretching and the power or strength activity.

    ELITETRACK Founder

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    Jay Turner on #30528

    Ok, well I have them hold each stretch for 60 seconds each. They do each stretch 3 times. Thoughts?

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