Esposito, F., Limontal, E., Cè, E., & Veicsteinas, A. (2009). Effect of acute passive stretching on maximum aerobic power and time to exhaustion. ACSM 56th Annual Meeting, Seattle, Washington. Presentation number 742.

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"Acute passive stretching has been shown to decrease the maximum skeletal muscle force and power during isometric and dynamic contractions, by altering muscle neural activation and the viscoelastic properties and contractility of the muscle-tendon unit." This study assessed the effects of acute passive stretching on the maximum aerobic power (VO2max) and on a high intensity sub-maximal exercise. Active males (N = 6) performed a maximum incremental test on a cycle ergometer to determine VO2max and a test at 85% of VO2max (high-intensity submaximal exercise) up to exhaustion. Tests were carried out on different days without (control condition) and with a preceding stretching routine. Variables measured were power output, oxygen uptake (VO2), ventilation, heart rate, blood lactate concentration, and time to exhaustion of the high-intensity submaximal exercise.

When compared to the no-stretching control condition, stretching produced the following results: power output was 5% lower; VO2max was similar; in the maximum exercise cardiorespiratory variables and blood lactate concentration were not significantly different but time to exhaustion was shorter; and VO2 and blood lactate concentration at minute 4 of the high-intensity submaximal exercise were higher but similar at exhaustion.

Implication. Acute passive stretching significantly reduced maximum power output but not VO2max. Time to exhaustion was significantly shorter when the exercise was preceded by stretching maneuvers. Stretching affects both power and aerobic performance in a detrimental manner. Passive stretching should not be part of a performance preparation routine.

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