Conclusions from a systematic review of numerous studies suggest possible contradictions of the most common findings about static stretching from the last 15 years.

According to a media release from Canadian Science Publishing (NRC Research Press), from the 1960s to the late 1990s, it has been suggested that static stretching (stretching muscles while the body is at rest) was important for increased flexibility, improved performance, and injury reduction. Then, for 15 years after that, it was suggested that static stretching could cause performance impairments and that it does not reduce injury risk.

This change in thinking resulted in a dramatic switch to the use of dynamic stretching (movements are performed through large ranges of motion usually at a fast speed) instead. Therefore, static stretching was no longer performed before exercising or playing sports, the release continues.

The comprehensive review of hundreds of studies, published recently in the journal Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism, suggests new recommendations regarding static stretching.

Per the researchers, in their review, static stretching—when incorporated into a full warm-up routine that includes an initial aerobic component, dynamic stretching, and then active and dynamic sport-specific activities—should not result in significant performance impairments and may reduce muscle strain injury risk, the release explains.

The systematic review also highlighted the lack of scientific data regarding the effects of dynamic stretching on injury risk, per the release.

“Many studies over the last 15 years did not include a full warm-up, something that most athletes do regularly. Many studies also tested stretches that were held much longer than what is typically done,” explains David Behm, PhD, Memorial University of Newfoundland and lead author of the study, in the release.

“Before incorporating new findings into your fitness activities, think about how the study applies to your situation and activities,” he adds.

[Source(s): Canadian Science Publishing (NRC Research Press), Science Daily]