Fowles, J. R., & Sale, D. G. (1997). Time course of strength deficit after maximal passive stretch in humans. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 29(5), Supplement abstract 155.

This investigation monitored the time course of strength deficit following an acute bout of maximal passive stretch.

Ss (M = 8, F = 2) engaged in maximal cyclical stretching of the plantar flexors of the ankle joint (14 stretches over 33 min). They also experienced a control condition of no stretching for the same period.

It was found that repeated maximal stretching decreased voluntary strength for up to an hour. This was caused by impaired motor unit activation and impaired contractile force in the early stages of the deficit, and by impaired contractile force throughout the entire period of deficit.

Implication. Dedicated stretching routines, as part of an event warm-up, should be terminated at least one hour before an event is to commence if strength and force production are to be maximal in the performance. This does not mean no stretching should occur during the period. Any stretching should be limited to "one or two" stretches to maintain range of movement, done relatively infrequently, and supported by a conscious effort to maintain an elevated core temperature, that is, the "warmed-up" state of the body.

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