Nelson, A. G., Driscoll, N. M., Landin, D. K., Young, M. A., & Schexnayder, I. C. (2005). Acute effects of passive muscle stretching on sprint performance. Journal of Sports Science, 23, 449-454.

Researches have shown that passive muscle stretching can diminish the peak force output of subsequent maximal isometric, concentric, and stretch-shortening contractions. This study attempted to establish whether the deleterious effects of passive stretching in laboratory settings would be evident in a performance setting. A Division I NCAA track athletics team (11 males, 5 females) performed electronically timed 20 m sprints with and without prior stretching of the legs. Four different stretch protocols were used, with each protocol completed on a different day. Hence, the test period lasted 4 weeks. The four stretching protocols were no-stretch of either leg (NS), both legs stretched (BS), forward leg in the starting position stretched (FS) and rear leg in the starting position stretched (RS). Three stretching exercises (hamstring stretch, quadriceps stretch, calf stretch) were used for the BS, FS and RS protocols. Each stretching exercise was performed four times, and each time the stretch was maintained for 30 seconds.

The BS, FS and RS protocols induced a significant increase (~0.04 s) in the 20-m sprint time.

Implication. Stretching the leg muscles before a sprint is likely to slow the sprint performance.

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