Short durations of stretching prior to activity may not alter muscle strength, and appears to temporarily improve joint range of motion (ROM), suggests a study.
The outcomes add to the debate on whether pre-exercise stretching contributes to a deficit in muscle strength and performance.
The study focused on practical durations of lower-leg [leg stretching] and ankle stretching – in two, four and eight-minute segments – among moderately active, non-athlete individuals.
Researchers tested the individuals in intervals before and immediately after, and also 10, 20, and 30 minutes after stretching.
Compared to no stretching at all among participants, the results indicated no stretching-induced changes in muscle strength, although there were improvements in ROM of the ankle joint.
Stretching prior to exercise or activity has been associated with increased flexibility, and enhanced flexibility was traditionally thought to aid or improve performance and reduce the risk of injury.
The authors noted that the majority of recent studies suggest stretching may compromise a muscle’s ability to produce maximal force, thus stirring controversy about whether muscles should be limber prior to activity.
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