Tyler Robbins Fitness

B.Sc. Biochemistry, Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS), Certified CrossFit Trainer (CCFT/CF-L3), USA Weightlifting Level 1

Day 11 - Dynamic Stretching for Performance

The professional strength and conditioning community is constantly evolving. What is thought to be common-practice one day, may be found to be less effective than other methods the next. An example of this would be the once-thought belief that static stretching prior to competition benefits athletes.

More and more studies have been reported lately, so this one should not be of any surprise to you readers who are already 'in the know', but some folks are still doing things 'the old way'. To this day, I still see athletes performing static stretches before practice or competition because they feel that it will either prevent injury, or improve their performance. Truth is, dynamic stretching has been shown time and time again to be a far more effective form of performance preparedness.

A study that was published a few months ago in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research has found that athletes performing dynamic stretching prior to a 505 agility test statistically perform better when than either those using static stretching, or the control group.

Van Gelder, LH and Bartz, SD. The effect of acute stretching on agility performance. J Strength Cond Res 25(11): 3014–3021, 2011—Static stretching (SS) has shown decreases in many areas including strength, anaerobic power, and sprinting time. Dynamic stretching (DS) has shown increases in anaerobic power and decreases in sprinting time. Research on the effects of stretching on agility performance is limited. The purpose of this study was to determine the effect of SS and DS on performance time of a sport agility test. Sixty male subjects consisting of collegiate (n = 18) and recreational (n = 42) basketball athletes volunteered for the study. Subjects were randomly assigned to 1 of 3 intervention groups: SS, DS, or no stretching (NS). All groups completed a 10-minute warm-up jog followed by a 3-minute rest. The SS and DS groups then completed an 8.5-minute stretching intervention. Next, all subjects completed 3 trials of the 505 agility test with 2–5 minutes of rest between trials. A 2-way repeated-measure analysis of variance (Stretch group, athlete category, group × athlete interaction) was used to determine statistical significance (p < 0.05). A Tukey post hoc test was performed to determine differences between groups. For all athletes, the DS group produced significantly faster times on the agility test (2.22 ± 0.12 seconds, mean ± SD) in comparison to both the SS group (2.33 ± 0.15 seconds, p = 0.013) and NS group (2.32 ± 0.12 seconds, p = 0.026). Differences between the SS and NS groups revealed no significance (p = 0.962). There was a significant difference in mean times for the type of athlete (p = 0.002); however, interaction between the type of athlete and stretching group was not significant (p = 0.520). These results indicate that in comparison to SS or NS, DS significantly improves performance on closed agility skills involving a 180° change of direction.

There is no doubt that static stretching has many benefits. It can increase circulation, improve range of motion, improve flexibility, and therefore can improve performance over time, however, static stretching should be used following competition or practice.

Dynamic stretching, on the other hand, is welcomed to those who wish to increase performance. It allows an individual to warmup and prepare the body by following similar actions to those that will be used during practice or competition. This allows the joints and limbs to travel through wide ranges of motion, as well as 'activate' the natural elasticity properties of the muscles and connective tissues in the body.

Quote of the day:
"Difficulties mastered are opportunities won."
~Winston Churchill