View Full Version : Static Stretching

Ben Owen
10-06-2009, 06:23 AM
I don't normally stretch. I have noticed a gain in my flexibility since I have started o-lifting, but I feel like there is something missing. Will static stretching adversely affect strength? What affect will stretching have on performance??

Allen Yeh
10-06-2009, 09:28 AM
I don't think static stretching will negatively affect performance. The rule that I try to adhere to is not too much static stretching prior to lifting, the only exception would be hip flexors. If you do any static stretching prior to training would be to limit the duration to less than 20 seconds. Do the longer stretching after or later during the day.

Steven Low
10-06-2009, 09:54 AM

I discuss most of what you probably want to know in this article.

If you have any other questions, feel free to ask.

Ben Owen
10-06-2009, 11:06 AM
Thanks Steven! That was really helpful.

Troy Kerr
01-25-2010, 07:35 AM
Allen- why 20 seconds?

Steve Shafley
01-25-2010, 11:43 AM
First off, it's extremely unlikely even an extensive static stretching session before you training will mess you up, because your warm-up/movement prep work should negate or reverse any potential adverse effects.

Lyle McDonald analyzes it succinctly here:


The relevant passages:

...anyone who has trained as an athlete or actually coached athletes in the real world knows that itís fairly rare (especially among strength/power type athletes, endurance guys are often years behind the curve) to go straight from static stretching immediately into high-performance work. At the very least some type of drills are generally done between the two, usually more than that (e.g. multiple progressive intensity sports specific warm-ups) is done.

There is also an issue of the extent of stretching: many of the negative performance studies have used levels of static stretching that far exceed what most athletes would ever do in practice (again, something anyone whoís actually worked with athletes would know). That is, it would be rare to hold a stretch for 2-4 minutes in the real world, static stretching of perhaps 30 seconds per muscle group would be far more realistic. Yet it is generally that type of extremely prolonged static stretching that has been tested and found to impair performance (some studies have shown shorter stretching periods to have a similar negative impact).

Which brings us to todayís study which set to test the above in a more real-world type of situation.

The study examined 13 netball players from the Australian Institute of Sport. Both groups first performed a sub-maximal run as a general warm-up. Then one group performed static stretching (9 stretches held for 30 second each) and the other performed a dynamic warm-up consisting of 16 rather common dynamic movements. Both the static and dynamic warm-ups lasted 15 minutes. After a short-rest, both groups were tested on 20m sprint and vertical jump. Then both groups performed a netball specific skill warm-up consisting of various short sprints, shuffling, accelerations, direction changes and jumping. Then the performance tests were performed a second time to see if anything had changed.

And the results? Well, in keeping with previous work, the static stretching routine did in fact hurt performance on the 20 m sprint and vertical jumping compared to the dynamic warm-up. However, after performing the specific skills warm-ups described above, results were no different on the second set of performance tests. That is, any loss of performance due to static stretching was eliminated simply by performing a variety of sport specific skills prior to the maximal effort testing.

Basically, by testing the athletes in a situation that more accurately reflects how athletes actually train, they found that much of the concern over static stretching is unfounded. As they state in the discussion:

The results suggest that if an inhibitory effect was present after static stretching, that the SKILL component of the warm-up routine was able to dissipate the negative effect. This supports the suggestion by Young and Behm that practice attempts of the required tests may offset potential negative effects of static stretching.

The also note that their results are in contrast to another study examining both a dynamic performance warm-up and a static-stretching warm-up but in that study, the static stretching was done after the performance warm-up and immediately prior to the testing. Basically, order of warm-up matters which I also discussed in Warming Up for the Weight Room Part 1. And so long as itís followed by some sort of dynamic, skill specific, progressive warm-up (e.g. progressively heavier warm-up sets in the weight room, increasingly faster pickups in sprinting, etc), static stretching appears to not be quite the absolute no-no that many have made it out to be.

So, let's say you stretch some areas you have issues with, shoulders, maybe hips...then you do the Burgener warm up, and then you start in on snatches. Lot's of skill practice to offset any type of performance decline that stretching might cause you.

A lot of sacred cows that have been slaughtered by the S&C community, especially those people wishing to sell you something sexy and new, have come back to life. Steady state cardio. Static stretching. Minimalistic footware...

SL's spot on about hip flexors. Stretch those every session before you run, jump, squat, lift, pull, etc.

Emily Mattes
01-25-2010, 06:16 PM
I think the approach is pretty intuitive. Static stretch seriously tight areas, do your dynamic warm-up, afterwards static stretch/rolling/PNF/pick your favorite mobility work.

O-lifting will definitely improve flexibility, but stretching and mobility work will speed up the process (and thus the progress of your lifts), and if you've got areas of seriously limited mobility it's a must.

Steven Low
01-26-2010, 05:13 PM
Basically, if you need it for tight areas or if you lack mobility to maintain proper technique, use it. Hip flexors, yes.

Otherwise, why not just do dynamic warmups and drills? If there's any potential negative effects (which there probably aren't given the amount of time you're expressing full power after statics anyway) then shrug.

Mostly, just get guys into good habits more or less. Don't need them stretching out again a few minutes before they get into the blocks to sprint or whatever else just because...

Allen Yeh
01-27-2010, 04:19 AM
I think I was saying 20 seconds because Eric Cressey advocates pre workout static stretching as long as you limit the duration.