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Short Periods Of Static Stretching Pre-Workout May Not Lower Strength

Posted Jul 31 2008 7:02pm

Research by the University of Oklahoma has shown that pre-workout stretching may not lower strength.

I have heard several times that pre-workout (static) stretching can reduce strength.  Some strength coaches suggest performing dynamic stretches prior to a workout and static stretching afterward or later in the day.

Dr. Joel T. Cramer, of the University of Oklahoma, wanted to determine if these effects would be seen after the short bouts of stretching that a typical exerciser or weekend athlete might perform.  To study this Dr. Cramer and colleagues measured calf strength in 13 moderately active men and women under four different conditions:  after no stretching, and before and after 2, 4, or 8 minutes of calf-muscle stretching.

The researchers found that stretching did not diminish the participants’ muscle strength compared with the no-stretching condition.  However, the stretching did temporarily improve the range of motion in the ankle joint.

Dr. Cramer notes that previous studies that did show that static stretching for long periods of time (10+ minutes) may decrease muscle strength for a short time.  He also notes that larger muscle may be more susceptible to reduced strength from pre-workout stretching.

I typically perform a few short static stretches prior to workouts, especially for my legs; however, these typically include 3 bouts of 20 seconds of stretching per leg.  I also warm-up with light weights before getting started with the planned weight workout.  It’s nice to know that this won’t sap my strength.

Reference: MedLine Plus

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