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Effects of Static Stretching on Repeated Sprint


and Change of Direction Performance

Article in Medicine and science in sports and exercise · February 2009


DOI: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e3181867b95 · Source: PubMed

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Effects of Static Stretching on Repeated
Sprint and Change of Direction Performance
JAMES R. J. BECKETT, KNUT T. SCHNEIKER, KAREN E. WALLMAN, BRIAN T. DAWSON, and KYM J. GUELFI
School of Sport Science, Exercise and Health, The University of Western Australia, Perth, AUSTRALIA

ABSTRACT
BECKETT, J. R., K. T. SCHNEIKER, K. E. WALLMAN, B. T. DAWSON, and K. J. GUELFI. Effects of Static Stretching on
Repeated Sprint and Change of Direction Performance. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc., Vol. 41, No. 2, pp. 444–450, 2009. Purpose: To
examine the effects of static stretching during the recovery periods of field-based team sports on subsequent repeated sprint ability
(RSA) and change of direction speed (CODS) performance. Methods: On four separate occasions, 12 male team-sport players
performed a standardized warm-up, followed by a test of either RSA or CODS (on two occasions each) in a counterbalanced
design. Both tests involved three sets of six maximal sprint repetitions, with a 4-min recovery between sets. During the break
between sets, the participants either rested (control [CON]) or completed a static stretching protocol (static stretch [SS]). The RSA
test involved straight-line sprints, whereas the CODS test required a change of direction (100-) every 4 m (total of four). Mean,
total (sum of six sprints), first, and best sprint times (MST, TST, FST, and BST, respectively) were recorded for each set. Results:
There was a consistent tendency for RSA times to be slower after the static stretching intervention, which was supported by
statistical significance for three performance variables (MST 0–5 m set 2, MST 0–20 m set 2, and TST set 2; P G 0.05). This
tendency was also supported by moderate effect sizes and qualitative indications of ‘‘likely’’ harmful or detrimental effects associated
with RSA-SS. Further, sprint times again tended to be slower in the CODS-SS trial compared with the CODS-CON across all sprint
variables, with a significantly slower (P G 0.05) BST recorded for set 3 after static stretching. Conclusion: These results suggest that
an acute bout (4 min) of static stretching of the lower limbs during recovery periods between efforts may compromise RSA
performance but has less effect on CODS performance. Key Words: WARM-UP, REPEATED SPRINT ABILITY, AGILITY,
INTERMITTENT HIGH-INTENSITY EXERCISE

S
tatic stretching is generally considered an integral spersed with brief, mostly active, recovery periods in bet-
component of sport conditioning programs and ween efforts (5,22). In addition, team-sport performance
APPLIED SCIENCES

preexercise warm-up routines (13). This type of requires many changes of direction while sprinting (5,10,22).
stretching is often practiced in the belief that it assists Although an investigation into the effect of static stretching
athletic performance, reduces the risk of injury, and de- on this performance parameter has shown impaired perfor-
creases muscle soreness resulting from strenuous activity mance compared with a dynamic warm-up (15), others have
(13,23). However, recent research has challenged some of observed no effect of static stretching on agility when
these beliefs regarding the benefits of static stretching. In incorporated into a warm-up routine (12). Furthermore, no
particular, studies have shown static stretching to induce studies have examined the effect of conducting static stretc-
significant acute deficits in muscular power (14,24), torque hing within the performance activity (i.e., during recovery
(6,14), force (19,26), and maximal strength (11) as well as periods between efforts such as during interchange or breaks
jump (4,7,25), sprint (8,17), and agility performance (15). in play). Therefore, it is still unknown whether static stretc-
Of importance, these studies have typically involved only hing at these times is detrimental to the performance of
a single sprint or power effort. Yet, field-based team sports repeated maximal efforts.
such as rugby, field hockey, soccer, and Australian football Other limitations of previous research include the use of
require players to perform multiple maximal sprints inter- protocols that are not representative of typical warm-up
methods used by athletes in performance settings. For
example, the total stretch durations implemented in previous
Address for correspondence: Karen Elizabeth Wallman, Ph.D., studies range from 90 s (11) to 30 min per muscle group (9),
School of Sport Science, Exercise and Health, University of Western
Australia, 35 Stirling Highway, Crawley, WA 6009, Perth, Australia; when in practice, mean stretch time is 10–20 s per muscle
E-mail: kwallman@cyllene.uwa.edu.au. group, repeated two to three times (1). Also, some studies
Submitted for publication March 2008. have applied static stretching in isolation of other warm-up
Accepted for publication July 2008. components that are normally performed such as aerobic
0195-9131/09/4102-0444/0 activity and dynamic drills (3).
MEDICINE & SCIENCE IN SPORTS & EXERCISEÒ The objective of this study was to determine the effect of
Copyright Ó 2009 by the American College of Sports Medicine static stretching during recovery periods between efforts on
DOI: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e3181867b95 repeated sprint ability (RSA) and also repeated change of

444

Copyright @ 2009 by the American College of Sports Medicine. Unauthorized reproduction of this article is prohibited.
direction speed (CODS) performance while closely emu- targeting the prime movers of the lower extremities
lating typical stretching practices. It was hypothesized that (hamstrings, quadriceps, gastrocnemius, soleus, hip flexors,
RSA and CODS performance would be significantly slower and adductors, respectively). All stretches were held to the
after static stretching in comparison to passive rest. In ad- point of slight discomfort (not pain) for a period of 20 s per
dition, it was hypothesized that any deficit in RSA per- muscle group per limb (with the exception of the adductor
formance would be most evident in the first 5 m of the stretch which targeted both limbs simultaneously).
sprint given that muscular force production requirements Repeated sprint ability (RSA) test. The RSA test
are greatest during the initial takeoff phase of a sprint (16). consisted of three sets of 6  20-m maximal sprints, going
every 25 s, with an active recovery between sprints (i.e., jog
back to start position). The test was performed on an outdoor
grass surface to replicate typical team-sport conditions. A
METHODS
20-m sprint distance was chosen as it approximates the
Participants. Twelve healthy, uninjured males (mean T mean sprint distance in common field-based team sports
SD: age = 23 T 4 yr; height = 178.7 T 5.8 cm; body mass = (22). Participants were given strong verbal encouragement
72.8 T 5.9 kg) were recruited as participants. All were regular throughout all trials to ensure maximal effort for each sprint.
team-sport players (soccer, n = 6; Australian football, n = 4; Each set of the RSA test was separated by a 4-min recovery
rugby, n = 2; and field hockey, n = 1) and were tested period during which the experimental stretching or control
toward the end of their respective competitive seasons. intervention was administered. Sprint times were recorded
Institutional ethics approval and individual written informed using electronic timing gates (Fusion Sport Smart Speed,
consent were obtained before the commencement of testing. Wales, UK) located at the start and finish lines. In addition,
Research design. Participants attended the outdoor 5- and 10-m split times were recorded. For the six sprints
laboratory on five occasions, each separated by approximately completed in each set, both mean sprint time (MST) and total
1 wk (7 T 1 d). The first visit involved familiarization with the sprint time (TST; sum of six sprints) were subsequently
RSA and the CODS tests as well as the warm-up and stretch- determined. Other performance measures included the first
ing protocols to be used in the experimental trials. On the (FST) and the best sprint time (BST) of each set. The typical
remaining four occasions, participants were required to error and the coefficient of variance for one set of 6  20 m
perform a standardized warm-up followed by either the RSA were 0.060 s and 1.8%, respectively, whereas for best 20-m
or the CODS performance test on two occasions each. Both time were 0.19 s and 1.1%, respectively.
tests involved three sets (of six repetitions each) with a 4-min Change of direction speed (CODS) perfor-
recovery between sets. During the break between sets, one of mance test. The CODS performance test consisted of three
the following conditions was applied: control (CON) in which sets of 6  20 m maximal sprints, going every 25 s with an

APPLIED SCIENCES
participants were required to stand and rest or static stretch active jog back recovery between efforts. The test was
(SS) in which participants were required to complete a performed on an outdoor grass surface and included four
4-min static stretching protocol. The four experimental trials changes of direction, each 100-, with 4 m of straight-line
(RSA-CON, RSA-SS, CODS-CON, and CODS-SS) were sprinting before and after each turn (Fig. 1). These relatively
administered randomly using a Latin square design. Each tight turns were chosen to maximize participant reliance on
participant was tested at the same time of day across all trials acceleration and deceleration while maintaining the angle of
to control for circadian variability. Participants were asked to the change in direction similar to that commonly observed
abstain from intense physical activity for 48 h before testing. in the field (5,10). Participants were again given strong
Warm-up. Each trial was commenced with a standardized verbal encouragement to ensure maximal effort, and all sets
warm-up consisting of general aerobic activity, dynamic were separated by a 4-min recovery period during which the
activities, and run-throughs. The aerobic activity consisted of experimental stretching or control intervention was
5 min of submaximal jogging performed outdoors on a 40-m administered. Similar to the RSA test, sprint times for the
marked grass track (20 laps maintaining a pace of 15 s per CODS test were recorded using electronic timing gates
lap or È9.6 kmIhj1). The dynamic activities involved sports- located at the start and finish lines. For the six sprints
specific movements, including 80 m each of buttock kicks, completed in each set, both MST and TST were determined
high knee lifts, and straight leg skipping, followed by four as well as FST and BST. After completing all four
40-m laps of carioca, alternating direction each lap. Run- experimental trials, participants were asked to nominate
throughs consisted of three repetitions of the applicable test
(RSA or CODS) conducted at progressively increasing
speeds (60%, 80%, and 100% of perceived maximum).
Participants then walked five laps of a 40-m track in 3 min
(È4 kmIhj1) followed by 1 min of passive rest.
Static stretching protocol. The static stretching
protocol implemented during the RSA-SS and the CODS-
SS trials consisted of a total of six static stretches, each FIGURE 1—CODS performance test.

STATIC STRETCHING AND PERFORMANCE Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercised 445

Copyright @ 2009 by the American College of Sports Medicine. Unauthorized reproduction of this article is prohibited.
whether they preferred the stretch or the no-stretch protocol cantly slower than set 1 for both RSA-CON (P = 0.026) and
during the recovery periods between sets. RSA-SS trials (P = 0.033). Between trials, MST for each set
Statistical analysis. Repeated-measures ANOVA was was consistently slower in the RSA-SS trial after the
used to compare RSA and CODS performance both within stretching protocol. Although this was not a statistically
(set 1 vs set 2 vs set 3) and between the two experimental significant main effect, post hoc analysis revealed that MST
conditions (SS vs CON), with post hoc analyses (Fisher’s was significantly slower in set 2 over the 0- to 5-m and the
least significant difference) used where appropriate. The 0- to 20-m sprint splits in the RSA-SS trial compared with
data from set 1 were excluded from the assessment of the RSA-CON (P = 0.044 and 0.031, respectively). The
between treatment effects because the intervention (SS or qualitative analysis supported this finding with a moderate
CON) was not administered until after set 1 of the sprints. effect size (d = 0.40) and a ‘‘likely’’ (91%) detrimental
These analyses were carried out using the Statistical effect for RSA-SS compared with RSA-CON over the first
Package for the Social Sciences for Windows (version 13; 5 m of the sprints in set 2. Qualitative analysis also revealed
SPSS, Inc., Chicago, IL), and statistical significance was set ‘‘likely’’ detrimental effects associated with RSA-SS for
at P G 0.05. In addition, trends in performance were 20-m sprint times (0–20 m) in set 2 (83%) and 0- to 5-m
interpreted using Cohen’s d effect sizes (pooled SD) and split times in set 3 (80%) compared with RSA-CON.
thresholds (G0.4, small; 0.4–0.7, moderate; 90.7, strong). Total sprint time (TST). Similar to MST, TST
Smallest worthwhile effects were also calculated for all increased (became slower) in set 2 compared with set 1 in
variables to determine the likelihood that the true effect was the RSA-SS trial, whereas set 3 was slower than set 1 for
substantially beneficial, trivial, or harmful (detrimental). both RSA-SS and RSA-CON (Table 1). Between trials,
The threshold value for smallest worthwhile change in 20-m TST for set 2 was found to be significantly slower in RSA-
sprint time was set at 0.8% (18), whereas CODS times were SS compared with RSA-CON (P = 0.031). Further,
set at 0.2 (Cohen’s units) (21). If both benefit and harm qualitative analysis supported this finding with a ‘‘likely’’
were calculated to be 95%, the true effect was assessed as (83%) detrimental effect associated with RSA-SS compared
unclear. Where clear interpretation could be made, chances with RSA-CON. No other differences were noted between
of benefit or harm (called detriment in this manuscript) trials for TST.
were assessed as follows: G1%, almost certainly not; 1– First and best sprint times (FST and BST). The
5%, very unlikely; 5–25%, unlikely; 25–75%, possibly; 75– split times for FST and BST of the RSA test are presented
95%, likely; 95–99%, very likely; and 999%, almost in Table 2. There was no significant within-trial effect for
certainly (2). either FST or BST. Likewise, there was no statistical
difference in these variables between treatments. However,
RESULTS the qualitative analysis suggested that there was a tendency
APPLIED SCIENCES

for FST to be slower in RSA-SS with moderate effect


Repeated Sprint Ability
sizes and ‘‘likely’’ detrimental effects for FST in set 2
Mean sprint time (MST). The MST for the RSA test (0–5 m; d = 0.49; 80%) and set 3 (5–10 m; d = 0.50; 93%).
are presented in Table 1. Within trials, MST increased The results for BST were less conclusive with qualitative
(i.e., became slower) in set 2 compared with set 1 for the indications (moderate effect sizes and both ‘‘likely’’
RSA-SS trial (P = 0.006). In addition, set 3 was signifi- detrimental and beneficial effects) for slower BST with

TABLE 1. Repeated sprint ability (RSA) average and TST for each set of the control (CON) and static stretch (SS) trials (mean T SD).
RSA-SS vs RSA-CON
Mean Change (%) T 90% % Chance Beneficial
RSA-CON RSA-SS Cohen’s d Confidence Interval* (Trivial/Detrimental)
MST (s)
Set 1 0–5 m 1.15 T 0.08 1.16 T 0.04 —
5–10 m 0.79 T 0.03 0.79 T 0.03 —
10–20 m 1.42 T 0.06 1.41 T 0.06 —
0–20 m 3.38 T 0.15 3.38 T 0.11 —
Set 2 0–5 m 1.15 T 0.07 1.18 T 0.08†‡ 0.40 2.4 T 1.9 1 (8/91)
5–10 m 0.79 T 0.04 0.80 T 0.03† 0.28 0.5 T 1.9 12 (50/39)
10–20 m 1.43 T 0.07 1.44 T 0.07† 0.14 0.8 T 1.3 2 (49/48)
0–20 m 3.38 T 0.15 3.42 T 0.15†‡ 0.27 1.4 T 1.0 1 (16/83)
Set 3 0–5 m 1.15 T 0.07‡ 1.18 T 0.06‡ 0.46 2.0 T 2.4 3 (17/80)
5–10 m 0.81 T 0.04‡ 0.81 T 0.04‡ 0.00 0.4 T 1.2 6 (67/27)
10–20 m 1.44 T 0.07‡ 1.44 T 0.08‡ 0.00 0.1 T 1.6 15 (61/24)
0–20 m 3.42 T 0.15‡ 3.44 T 0.17‡ 0.12 0.7 T 1.5 4 (49/47)
TST (s) Set 1 20.25 T 0.89 20.27 T 0.68 —
Set 2 20.27 T 0.91 20.54 T 0.88†‡ 0.30 1.4 T 1.0 1 (16/83)
Set 3 20.51 T 0.91‡ 20.67 T 1.00‡ 0.17 0.7 T 1.5 4 (49/47)
* Where a positive percent change equates to an increase in time in RSA-SS condition.
† Significant difference from RSA-CON trial (P G 0.05).
‡ Significant difference from set 1 (P G 0.05).

446 Official Journal of the American College of Sports Medicine http://www.acsm-msse.org

Copyright @ 2009 by the American College of Sports Medicine. Unauthorized reproduction of this article is prohibited.
TABLE 2. Repeated sprint ability (RSA) FST and BST for each set of the control (CON) and static stretch (SS) trials (mean T SD).
RSA-SS vs RSA-CON
Mean Change (%) T 90% % Chance Beneficial
RSA-CON RSA-SS Cohen’s d Confidence Intervala (Trivial/Detrimental)
FST (s) Set 1 0–5 m 1.15 T 0.09 1.15 T 0.06 —
5–10 m 0.76 T 0.04 0.77 T 0.04 —
10–20 m 1.37 T 0.06 1.35 T 0.06 —
0–20 m 3.29 T 0.16 3.28 T 0.10 —
Set 2 0–5 m 1.13 T 0.05 1.16 T 0.07 0.49 2.3 T 3.1 5 (15/80)
5–10 m 0.76 T 0.03 0.75 T 0.04 0.28 j1.4 T 1.7 72 (26/2)
10–20 m 1.35 T 0.06 1.37 T 0.05 0.36 1.4 T 2.2 5 (26/69)
0–20 m 3.26 T 0.10 3.29 T 0.13 0.26 1.1 T 1.4 2 (35/63)
Set 3 0–5 m 1.13 T 0.09 1.14 T 0.09 0.11 0.5 T 2.7 20 (37/43)
5–10 m 0.77 T 0.04 0.79 T 0.04 0.50 3.1 T 2.7 1 (6/93)
10–20 m 1.36 T 0.06 1.38 T 0.06 0.33 1.5 T 2.2 5 (25/70)
0–20 m 3.27 T 0.15 3.32 T 0.15 0.33 1.4 T 1.7 2 (24/74)
BST (s) Set 1 0–5 m 1.12 T 0.08 1.12 T 0.05 —
5–10 m 0.77 T 0.05 0.77 T 0.05 —
10–20 m 1.36 T 0.05 1.35 T 0.06 —
0–20 m 3.26 T 0.14 3.26 T 0.1 —
Set 2 0–5 m 1.12 T 0.06 1.15 T 0.07 0.46 2.5 T 3.2 4 (13/83)
5–10 m 0.77 T 0.03 0.75 T 0.04 0.57 j2.5 T 2.1 91 (8/1)
10–20 m 1.35 T 0.06 1.36 T 0.06 0.17 0.7 T 2.0 9 (43/48)
0–20 m 3.24 T 0.12 3.28 T 0.13 0.32 1.1 T 2.6 2 (34/64)
Set 3 0–5 m 1.11 T 0.06 1.12 T 0.04 0.20 0.5 T 2.2 16 (43/41)
5–10 m 0.78 T 0.05 0.79 T 0.05 0.20 1.8 T 2.8 6 (21/73)
10–20 m 1.37 T 0.08 1.38 T 0.07 0.13 1.2 T 1.5 2 (30/68)
0–20 m 3.26 T 0.16 3.30 T 0.13 0.27 1.3 T 1.6 2 (28/70)
a
Where a positive % change equates to an increase in time in RSA-SS condition.
* Significant difference from RSA-CON trial (P G 0.05).
† Significant difference from set 1 (P G 0.05).

RSA-SS over the first 5 m of the sprint in set 2 but faster with set 1 in CODS-SS (FST, P = 0.002 and 0.007, re-
BST over 5–10 m in the same set. spectively; BST, P = 0.026 and 0.015, respectively).
Between trials, FST was consistently slower for CODS-SS
Change of Direction Speed compared with CODS-CON in sets 2 and 3; however, this
was not supported by statistical or qualitative analysis. For
Mean and total sprint times (MST and TST). The
BST, CODS time for set 3 in the SS condition was sig-
results for CODS are presented in Table 3. There was no
nificantly slower in comparison to CON (P = 0.035), but no

APPLIED SCIENCES
significant difference in MST or TST within or between
qualitative analyses supported this result.
treatments. Although there was a consistent pattern for
slower sprint times in sets 2 and 3 for CODS-SS compared
Stretching Preferences
with CODS-CON, this was not supported by statistical or
qualitative analysis. Participant responses recorded after the final testing
First and best sprint times (FST and BST). There session revealed that 50% of participants preferred to
was no difference between sets 1, 2, and 3 for either FST stretch during recovery periods, whereas the remaining
or BST during the CODS-CON trial. In contrast, both FST 50% preferred not to stretch. The effect of static stretching
and BST were significantly slower in sets 2 and 3 compared on the performance (TST of sets 2 and 3 combined) of each

TABLE 3. Change of direction speed (CODS) sprint times (mean [MST], total [TST], first [FST], and best [BST]) for each set of the control (CON) and static stretch (SS) trials
(mean T SD).
CODS-SS vs CODS-CON
Mean % Change T 90% % Change Beneficial
CODS-CON CODS-SS Cohen’s d Confidence Interval* (Trivial/Detrimental)
MST (s) Set 1 6.83 T 0.32 6.80 T 0.43 —
Set 2 6.83 T 0.41 6.86 T 0.43 0.07 0.07 T 0.28 5 (73/22)
Set 3 6.89 T 0.44 6.99 T 0.50 0.21 0.22 T 0.18 1 (42/57)
TST (s) Set 1 40.97 T 1.90 40.77 T 2.55 —
Set 2 40.98 T 2.43 41.16 T 2.60 0.07 0.07 T 0.28 5 (73/22)
Set 3 41.37 T 2.65 41.95 T 3.02 0.20 0.22 T 0.18 1 (42/57)
FST (s) Set 1 6.69 T 0.38 6.62 T 0.42 —
Set 2 6.73 T 0.42 6.76 T 0.44† 0.07 0.06 T 0.36 11 (63/26)
Set 3 6.72 T 0.47 6.81 T 0.46† 0.19 0.19 T 0.23 1 (54/45)
BST (s) Set 1 6.61 T 0.29 6.61 T 0.43 —
Set 2 6.67 T 0.39 6.67 T 0.42† 0.00 0.01 T 0.26 9 (81/10)
Set 3 6.66 T 0.43 6.77 T 0.45‡† 0.25 0.25 T 0.19 0 (31/69)
a
Where a positive % change equates to an increase in time in RSA-SS condition.
* Significant difference from CODS-CON trial (P G 0.05).
‡ Significant difference from set 1 (P G 0.05).

STATIC STRETCHING AND PERFORMANCE Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercised 447

Copyright @ 2009 by the American College of Sports Medicine. Unauthorized reproduction of this article is prohibited.
static stretching resulted in either equal or, more commonly,
slower sprint times. This tendency for slower sprint times
after static stretching was also supported by moderate to
large effect sizes and qualitative analyses that indicated
‘‘likely’’ detrimental effects for several measures (see
Tables 1 and 2). Taken together, these results suggest that
it may be preferable to avoid static stretching during
recovery periods for optimal RSA performance.
Likewise, there was a consistent tendency for sprint times
to be slower in the CODS-SS trial compared with the
CODS-CON, with all performance measures being slower
in CODS-SS, except for BST set 2, which resulted in equal
times. Further, results for BST (set 3) were significantly
slower after static stretching. However, unlike the results for
RSA, there were no moderate or strong effect sizes or
FIGURE 2—The effect of static stretching on RSA (circles) and CODS ‘‘likely’’ detrimental effects associated with CODS-SS.
(squares) performance (combined total sprint time [TST] for sets 2 and The lack of statistically significant differences between
3) for each individual participant. Results are expressed as the
difference from CON when SS was performed (i.e., positive values
trials across all measures may have been limited by the
represent slower performance with SS, whereas negative results testing protocols used in the present study. In both tests
indicate faster performance). Open symbols indicate individuals that (RSA and CODS), participants were required to perform six
preferred to stretch during recovery periods between repeated bouts,
whereas filled symbols indicate individuals preferring not to stretch.
repeated maximal efforts going every 25 s with active (jog
back) recovery in between. Rosenbaum and Henning (20)
individual participant depending on their preference is demonstrated that the addition of further dynamic activities,
shown in Figure 2. Of the six participants preferring to poststatic stretching, may reduce any stretching-induced
stretch during recovery periods, four performed better in the impairment in performance. This premise is supported by
RSA test (faster TST of sets 2 and 3) when they completed Little and Williams (12), who suggested that extra muscle
the control (no-stretching) protocol. With respect to CODS activity after stretching may reverse any decrease in muscle
performance, of the six participants preferring to stretch, compliance and neural drive associated with static stretch-
three performed better in the stretching condition whereas ing. Based on this, it is possible that the testing protocols
the other 3 individuals performed worse. themselves may have been sufficient dynamic activity to
dampen any significant detrimental effect of stretching on
APPLIED SCIENCES

both RSA and CODS performance. In addition, it is


DISCUSSION
possible that as fatigue developed during the repeated-sprint
The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of protocols used in this study (as shown by the significantly
static stretching during the recovery periods in field-based slower sprint times in set 3 compared with set 1 within
team sports (i.e., during interchange or breaks in play) on trials), any effects of static stretching may have been at-
subsequent RSA and CODS performance, two fundamental tenuated. This may assist in explaining the significantly
determinants of team-sport success. In doing so, ecological slower MST noted during the RSA-SS trial for set 2 but
validity was emphasized by using stretching and testing not for set 3.
protocols that reflect actual practice. It was hypothesized The hypothesis that any deficits in RSA performance
that both RSA and CODS performance would be impaired would be more evident in the first 5 m of the sprints is
(particularly in the first 5-m acceleration phase for RSA) supported to some extent by the present results. MST for the
when static stretching was conducted between testing sets. first 5 m in set 2 was significantly slower in RSA-SS com-
This hypothesis was based on existing literature which sug- pared with RSA-CON, whereas no difference was noted for
gests that the performance of tasks that are highly reliant the 5- to 10-m and the 10- to 20-m splits. Although no
on muscular force and power is attenuated after acute bouts statistical difference was noted over the first 5 m for set 3, the
of static stretching (14,19,24,26). qualitative analysis did reveal a moderate effect size and a
With respect to RSA, there was a consistent tendency for ‘‘likely’’ detrimental effect associated with RSA-SS. Like-
sprint times to be slower after the static stretching wise, moderate effect sizes and ‘‘likely’’ detrimental effects
intervention. Although this was not supported by statistical were found over the first 5 m for FST and BST in set 2 when
significance across all measures (only MST for 0–5 m set 2; stretching was included during the recovery period. These
MST for 0–20 m set 2; TST set 2 and BST set 3; and RSA- results support the contention that any detrimental effects of
SS significantly slower than RSA-CON), it is interesting to static stretching on sprint ability may be largely due to an
note that in all the performance data collected, only the 5- to impairment of the force producing capacity of the muscles of
10-m split times for FST and BST in set 2 were faster after the lower limb during the initial takeoff. However, the
the static stretching intervention. In all other measures, reduction in TST as a result of reduced acceleration during

448 Official Journal of the American College of Sports Medicine http://www.acsm-msse.org

Copyright @ 2009 by the American College of Sports Medicine. Unauthorized reproduction of this article is prohibited.
the first 5 m may be insignificant when measuring sprint mance is less likely to be affected by the design of the
times over distances of 20 m or more. This may be partly warm-up given the high involvement of complex motor-
responsible for the discrepancy between results from pre- performance skills. Therefore, it is possible that any effects
vious investigations that have examined the effect of static of static stretching on the CODS task in the present study
stretching on performance tests involving brief, isolated may have been overshadowed by the complexity of the
muscular efforts, such as vertical jumps, compared with task.
tests involving multiple efforts over a longer time span Of interest, half of the participants preferred to stretch
such as a sprint. during recovery periods between efforts, whereas the re-
This is the first study to examine the effects of static maining half did not. It is possible that there is a psy-
stretching during recovery periods on subsequent sprint chological influence on performance when individuals
performance. Previous research has focused on the effects are forced to act in opposition to their preference. For
of static stretching as part of the warm-up rather than within instance, those that prefer to stretch may tend to perform
the performance. Also, previous research has predominantly worse when they are forced to omit stretching from their
examined the effect of static stretching on a single sprint or normal routine. To explore this issue, each individual par-
CODS movement rather than repeated sprint activities. For ticipant’s TST (sum of sets 2 and 3) was plotted along
instance, Fletcher and Jones (8) observed significantly with their preference; however, no obvious patterns were
slower 20-m sprint times after passive stretching. Similarly, evident. That is, whether participants preferred to stretch or
Nelson et al. (17) reported significantly slower 20-m sprint not did not seem to impact their individual performance.
times after four sets of three passive stretches each lasting In conclusion, after a precompetition warm-up similar to
30 s compared with a no-stretching condition. However, that used in field-based team sports, an acute bout (4 min)
such past studies have typically implemented longer stretch of static stretching of the lower limbs during recovery
durations than commonly prescribed (17), along with static periods between efforts may compromise RSA performance
stretching performed in isolation of other warm-up activities but may have less effect on CODS performance. Given the
and performance tests being conducted immediately after consistent tendency for slower sprint times for both RSA
stretching (8). and CODS after static stretching during recovery periods, it
In contrast to the abovementioned studies suggesting a may be preferable to avoid static stretching during recovery
negative effect of static stretching on single sprint ability, the periods for optimal performance in these aspects of a team
same is not so for CODS (or agility). The lack of statistical game. However, it is important to note that team sports
evidence to support an effect of static stretching on CODS involve several complex tasks and other athletic abilities,
performance in the present study is in agreement with the and consequently static stretching is unlikely to have a sig-
findings of Little and Williams (12), who observed similar nificant negative impact on the final outcome of a game.

APPLIED SCIENCES
agility performance when a warm-up involving static
stretching was compared with warm-up excluding stretch-
ing. Likewise, Faigenbaum et al. (7) found no significant
difference in proagility run times after static stretching. The results of this study do not constitute endorsement by
These authors suggested that change of direction perfor- ACSM.

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APPLIED SCIENCES

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