STATIC STRETCHING DURING A WARM UP. GOOD OR BAD?
Firstly the main type of stretching highlighted in this article is the use of static stretching within a warm up and specifically referring to static passive stretching.
Static passive stretching or relaxed stretching is simply when we perform a stretch with no movement at a joint and no activation at a muscle. Think of grabbing a post with your arm behind you and just holding the stretch in your chest for 30 seconds in a relaxed manner. That is static passive stretching.
Should we perform static passive stretching during a warm up?
The short answer is it depends, but let's break it down.
Static passive stretching has been shown to reduce power output in some circumstances on jumping related performances and power output (1,2,3,4). The force produced has seen a detriment of 20% in some cases measured through electromyographic (EMG) activity (3) but jump performance has seen only 5% decrease in some cases (1).
For some individuals, this decrease in potential power is crucial to their performance, such as a high level athlete. But for most, losing a bit of power and improving range of motion should be seen as a win.
‘In the long run, improving your range of motion will help with performance’
So, if an individual needs to gain some additional range of motion prior to training then some light intensity static stretching will be fine. But if your current flexibility allows you to perform adequate range of motion already then don't perform static stretches within your warm up.
Remember that dynamic flexibility (range of motion displayed whilst a joint is moving) CAN’T produce more range of motion than what's available statically, therefore if you want increased dynamic flexibility then improve your static flexibility.
The Ideal Warm Up
- Performing a combination of submaximal aerobic activity.
- Non-strenuous static stretching no longer than 30 seconds per stretch (if needed).
- Dynamic stretches that take the joints/muscles through a full range of motion.
- Specific movements that relate the upcoming exercise or activity (5,6).
- If needed you should perform static stretching in your warm up in combination with dynamic stretching and sport specific movements.
- Stick to low intensity static stretching in your warm such as a 3 out of 10 of your point of discomfort (POD) and no longer than 30 seconds per stretch and 90 seconds per muscle group.
- Once your flexibility has improved to meet the needs of your movements then remove static stretching for your warm ups and follow the ideal warm up above.
- Lastly, trial and error is important as seeing what you enjoy and what works for you will help you decide what you decide to do going forward.