FLEXIBILITY AND STRETCHING THEORY
“Stretching” Theory Stretching is commonly promoted as a method to improve performance in various sports and recreational activities. Many of the most recent studies however have concluded that the benefits of stretching may not be seen without proper techniques and timing (8, 9). No matter the theory on “How” or “When” to stretch, there are industry standards that dictate the general Range of Motion (ROM) that should be expected. Attached is a chart that can be used as a tool to evaluate and grade overall flexibility.
Pre-exercise stretching focuses on short-term adaptations prior to participating in an activity, whereas flexibility training focuses on long-term adaptations associated with a stretching program designed to improve range of motion. Even though both approaches attempt to increase the range of motion at a joint, the physiological responses in the musculoskeletal system are different. These differences impact musculoskeletal system force production capabilities, but the biggest concerns arise when stretching precedes activities requiring strength or power. Yamaguchi and Ishii (3) identified a tendency for losses in power production when athletes included this technique in their warm-up. It has also been found that sprint performances were much slower following passive static stretching (1, 2). Interestingly, Young and Elliot (4) attributed this to an ineffective eccentric phase during the stretch shortening cycle because of a loss in elastic energy. Their conclusion was based on the finding of no loss in force production following static stretching (4). The primary debate in Sports Performance and Personal Training is along the lines of the effect of Pre-Exercise/Performance warm-up and stretching. The majority of research in the field is of the theory that Passive/Static Stretching prior to activity has detrimental effects on performance – but contradictory schools of thought do exist.