Static Stretching is Bad For You! [Study]

diagonal-hand-toe-touch-b-exThink back to elementary school physical education. Chances are, your instructor warmed up the class with a number of static stretches… like touching your toes and holding it for 30 seconds. Now, a growing body of evidence suggests that static stretching has the opposite effect that we intend; it decreases speed, reduces strength and increases injury risk.

The New York Times recently cited two studies in the case against static stretching. One study, published in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, has demonstrated the negative impact of static stretching on weight lifting. A separate article published in The Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports has added additional fuel to the fire by analyzing more than 100 previous studies.

Here are a few of the key findings.

According to researchers, static stretching reduces strength by almost 5.5%. In a different study involving squats, static stretching was found to reduce strength by 8.3% – and was linked to increased feeling of instability. Researchers noted that the impact is greatest when muscles are stretched for 90 seconds or more – and somewhat reduced for stretches under 45 seconds.

But it doesn’t end there. Power is a measure of a muscle’s ability to produce for during contractions, and muscle power generally falls by about 2% after static stretching. Explosive muscular power – like bursting into a full sprint – was reduced by 2.8%.

While reducing output by a few percentage points doesn’t sound like a big deal, every pound or nanosecond counts – especially in the world of competitive sports. When races are won by hundredths of a second, reducing power by 2% is a game changer.

The bottom line: Skip static stretches. Instead of warming up by holding poses for a given length of time, most trainers recommend dynamic stretching. Dynamic stretching involves moving your muscles – like arm circles or jumping jacks – to properly warm up your body for a given exercise.

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Comments

  1. Jason S. says:

    This doesn’t apply to the type of stretching done in Yoga, does it?

  2. Not good… what about yoga practicers? They stretch the muscles deeper and deeper for minutes. I guess the strenght lost is almost double those percentages for these people D;

  3. It’s important to note that this is mostly for static stretching before a workout rather than a proper warm up which might include some more dynamic stretches or some cardio.

    Static stretching is still an excellent way to maintain mobility and also to help your body reduce build up of lactic acid AFTER a work out. So many people omit stretching as part of their physical exercise regiment, I feel like studies like this are only helping people rationalize their laziness when it comes to stretching.

    One way or another, proper warm up and stretching is still one of the best ways to avoid injury and to aid in recovery.

    • Charley says:

      NO Mr. Wavey, static stretching is GOOD for you, just do it AFTER your workout and leave feeling good. Dynamic stretch (warm-up) BEFORE your workout. And I’ve been saying this for many years.

  4. Use your brain….. .>.> Static Stretching bad for you? Let’s amplify it… YOGA, What Yoga instructor isn’t Ripped, healhy, and sexy looking? THANK YOU… This is a bunch of bullshit. xD

  5. Zachary says:

    When I was training in Aerial Acrobatics my instructor would never have us do static stretching before the workout. Only after, I think the point of this article is not to say that all static stretching is bad, but rather that static stretching before a workout will reduce strength during the workout. Which is to say, that it is not an effective way of warming up.

    Yoga, which is a series of static stretches, is not a warm up to strength training, nor is it a competitive sport. So this article really has nothing to do with yoga, other than to say it’s not a good thing to do right before strength training.

  6. christopher says:

    jumping jacks seem a good alternative-maybe five minutes on the treadmill might be good also.

  7. In my style of yoga, we get warm first before engaging in longer held stretching. Also, we are taught to not go so deep into the stretch as this can be harmful to the muscles and connective tissues. Basically, get warm first and know your limits.

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