Donkin, J. L., Bradley, R. T., Polin, M., Martinez Jr., R., Quintana, R., Parker, D. L., & Faria, I. (2012). Static stretching does not effect time to completion in 20 km time-trials. Presentation 993 at the 59th Annual Meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine, San Francisco, California; May 29-June 2, 2012.

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"Recent research has identified static stretching as a potential detriment to short term ballistic exercise. Further, pre-exercise static stretching has been shown to decrease exercise economy. However it is unclear if this has a negative effect on endurance performance."

This study determined the effect of pre-exercise stretching on cycling time-trial performance when compared to an active warm-up and no warm-up. Cyclists (M = 7; F = 1) were tested to determine VO2max and maximal aerobic power (Wmax). Ss completed three different warm-up protocols (stretching, warm-up, and no-stretching) prior to a cycling bout of 576 kJ (~20 km). The stretching protocol consisted of five positions that each targeted one of the major muscle groups for cycling. Each stretch was held for 25 seconds and repeated four times on each leg. The warm-up protocol consisted of 15 minutes of sub-maximal cycling with five minutes at 20, 35, 50% Wmax. The no-warm-up protocol consisted of 15 minutes of sitting on the cycle ergometer prior to beginning the criterion time-trial. During each time-trial, heart rates and ratings of perceived exertion were recorded every 28.8 kJ (~1 km), while VO2 was recorded every 144 kJ (~5 km). Between-trials rests were 48 hours.

No significant differences were found in time to completion between the three trials. Power outputs every ~1 km and VO2 were not significantly different between treatments or time. Heart rates and ratings of perceived exertion were not significantly different between trials, but increased significantly over time within trials.

Implication. Static stretching as a part of the pre-exercise routine has no effect on subsequent endurance performance. Less than maximum intensity exercise might not be affected by static stretching as much as exercises that rely considerably on elastic energy (power exercises).

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