064: 60 Seconds of Either Static Passive or Static Active Stretching Does Not Decrease Subsequent Force Output in the AdductorsJul 20, 2022
Fjerstad, B. M., Hammer, R. L., Hammer, A. M., et al. (2018.) 'Comparison of Two Static Stretching Procedures on Hip Adductor Flexibility and Strength.' International Journal of Exercise Science volume 11, number 6, pages 1074-1085.
40 healthy and physically active adults (20 males, 20 females, 18-35 years old) were randomly allocated to a 60-second static passive adductor stretching group, 60-second static active adductor stretching group, or a non-stretching control group. Neither the static passive nor static active stretching protocols produced a post-stretching deficit in adductor muscle strength, which aligns with the previous research. Trainees need not shy away from acute bouts of hip adductor stretching lasting up to 60 seconds if they are worried about resultant decreases in strength.
Popular sports and physical fitness activities like football, gymnastics, dance, and martial arts often demand the ability to display large amplitudes of motion at the hip, and in actions that require sudden changes of direction, there may be an increased risk of strains to the hip adductor muscles (Nicholas & Tyler, 2002; Tyler et al., 2001). While hip adductor strains are the consequence of many converging factors, one common cause is the stretching of the muscle-tendon unit beyond its normal limits of ROM (Apostolopoulos et al., 2015), and relevant stretching interventions can help reduce the risk of such injuries (Amako et al., 2003; McHugh & Cosgrave, 2010; Dinh et al., 2011). Thus, common sense dictates that including stretching in a warm-up to increase joint ROM and tissue compliance will potentially reduce the risk of strain-related injury.
Static passive stretching has long been a feature of warm-ups because it is easy and safe to implement and often results in more significant improvements in ROM compared to static active or dynamic active stretching (Decoster et al., 2005; Wyon et al., 2009; Stafilidis & Tilp, 2015; Konrad et al., 2017). However, there is growing evidence that pre-exercise static types of stretching can cause reductions in strength and physical performance (Behm & Chaouachi, 2011). As a result, the fear of so-called "stretch-induced force decrements" has led to a shift in coaches and trainees favouring dynamic stretching over static stretching in their warm-up routines (Samson et al., 2012).
It is essential to keep in mind that most recommendations to avoid static-type stretching in warm-ups often lack much of the nuance of the current body of evidence, which shows that strength is only compromised when stretching intensity is very high and stretching durations are longer than 60 seconds per muscle group (Kay & Blazevich, 2010; Behm et al., 2016; Kataura et al., 2017). The findings from this study add to that body of literature, specifically focusing on the adductors - a muscle group often injured in many sports but lacking the attention of researchers that is given to other groups like the hamstrings and quadriceps. Post-stretching reductions in muscle performance need not be a cause for concern if stretches are held at light to moderate intensity levels and for 60 seconds or less.
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