The Acute Effects of Static Stretching on Speed and Agility Performance Depend on Stretch Duration and Conditioning Level

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Avloniti, A, Chatzinikolaou, A, Fatouros, IG, Avloniti, C, Protopapa, M, Draganidis, D, Stampoulis, T, Leontsini, D, Mavropalias, G, Gounelas, G, and Kambas, A. The acute effects of static stretching on speed and agility performance depend on stretch duration and conditioning level. J Strength Cond Res 30(10): 2767–2773, 2016—Although static stretching (SS) is an integral part of physical preparation before training and competition, its usefulness in regards to power performance improvement has been questioned. The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of 6 SS durations on speed and agility performance. According to a cross-over design, 34 trained men (age, 20.5 ± 1.4 years; height, 1.81 ± 0.2 m; weight, 77.2 ± 2.6 kg; body fat, 8.2 ± 2.6%) participated in a control session (no stretch) and 6 experimental conditions (10, 15, 20, 30, 40, and 60 seconds) performed in a randomized order. Performance in speed (10 and 20 m) and agility (T-test) was measured after the control and experimental conditions. Static stretching, consisting of stretches for hip extensors, hip adductors, knee extensors, knee flexors, and ankle sole flexors, was performed after light cardiovascular exercise (8 minutes). A 1-way repeated-measures analysis of variance showed that speed was improved only by SS of short duration (15/20 seconds), whereas agility remained unaffected by all SS trials. When participants' speed and agility level was taken into account, it was revealed that only those of moderate performance demonstrated an improved speed (in 15- and 20-second trials) and agility (in 10- and 15-second trials) performance. These results suggest that short-duration SS protocols induce an acute improvement of speed and agility performance, whereas longer-duration SS protocols have neither positive nor negative effect. Furthermore, it seems that individuals of lower speed and agility performance level are more likely to benefit by a short-duration SS protocol.

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