STRETCHING IMPAIRS WARM-UP EFFECT ON BALANCE AND REACTION/MOVEMENT TIME

Behm, D. G., Bambury, A., Cahill, F., Power, K. (2004). Effect of acute static stretching on force, balance, reaction time, and movement time. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 36, 1397-1402.

This study investigated the effect of an acute bout of lower limb static stretching on balance, proprioception, reaction, and movement time. Ss (N = 16) were tested on two occasions; i) before and after both a static stretching of the quadriceps, hamstrings, and plantar flexors and ii) a similar duration no-stretching control condition. The stretching protocol involved a 5-min cycle warm-up followed by three stretches to the point of discomfort of 45 s each with 15-s rest periods for each muscle group. Measurements included maximal voluntary isometric contraction (MVC) force of the leg extensors, static balance using a computerized wobble board, reaction and movement time of the dominant lower limb, and the ability to match 30% and 50% MVC forces with and without visual feedback.

There were no significant differences in the decrease in maximal voluntary isometric contraction between the stretch and control conditions or in the ability to match submaximal forces. Balance scores decreased significantly (9.2%) but increased significantly with the control condition. (17.3%). Reaction (5.8%) and movement (5.7%) time decreased significantly with the control condition which differed significantly from the stretch-induced increases of 4.0% and 1.9%, respectively.

Implication. A bout of acute stretching impaired balance and reaction and movement times when compared to a no-stretching condition.

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