Stretching and Muscular Endurance Performance

Article excerpt

What Was the Question?

While it has become common practice for coaches and trainers to accept and promote the virtues of stretching before performing exercise or engaging in sports, it appears that the athletic world's beliefs about stretching may exceed what is actually known. Seemingly, the contention is that pre-event stretching not only reduces the potential for injury, but is also associated with enhanced performance. However, as noted by Nelson, Kokkonen, and Arnall (2005), recent reviews have not unequivocally supported this alleged relationship. The researchers observed that studies have found pre-event stretching to actually inhibit such indices as maximal force production, torque exerted, vertical jump performance, and running speed. Reasoning that muscle strength and muscle endurance are closely linked, they wished to determine whether stretching also negatively affects muscular endurance.

What Was Done?

Nelson et al. assigned 22 college students (11 males and 11 females) to one of two groups: a pretest stretching protocol group (i.e., the experimental condition) that performed passive static stretching of the hip, thigh, and calf muscle groups; and a group that engaged in 10 minutes of quiet sitting (i.e., the control condition). Subsequently, the subjects were asked to perform a leg-flexion-and-extension endurance task on a Nautilus knee-extension machine. The test subjects served as their own controls by having the experimental treatment administered to one group on days one and three, and to the other group on days two and four, while the control condition was administered to the first group on days two and four, and to the second group on days one and three. Also, the resistance for the endurance task was set at 60 percent of a subject's body weight for days one and two, and at 40 percent on days three and four. Finally, to assess the effects of stretching on a subject's range of motion, a sit-and-reach test was performed before and after the experimental and control conditions.

What Was Found?

First, results showed a statistically significant improvement (p < .05) in pre-to-post sit-and-reach measures for the subjects who stretched, but showed no difference for the subjects who did not stretch when in the control condition. Furthermore, subjects who stretched before performing the endurance task experienced a 24.4 percent reduction in their performance when the resistance was set at 60 percent of their body weight, and 9. …