Chronic Static Stretching Improves Exercise
JOKE KOKKONEN', ARNOLD G. NELSON2, CAROL ELDREDGE1, and JASON B. WINCHESTER2
'Exercise and Sport Science Department, Brigham Young University-Hawaii, Laie, HI; and 2Department of Kinesiology,
Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA
KOKKONEN, J., A. G. NELSON, C. ELDREDGE, and J. B. WINCHESTER. Chronic Static Stretching Improves Exercise
Performance. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc., Vol. 39, No. 10, pp. 1825-1831, 2007. Purpose: This study investigated the influence of static
stretching exercises on specific exercise performances. Methods: Thirty-eight volunteers participated in this study. The stretching group
(STR) consisted of 8 males and II females whose activity was limited to a 10-wk, 40-min, 3-d'wk-1 static stretching routine designed
to stretch all the major muscle groups in the lower extremity. The control group (CON) consisted of 8 males and II females who did not
participate in any kind of regular exercise routine during the study. Each subject was measured before and after for flexibility, power
(20-m sprint, standing long jump, vertical jump), strength (knee flexion and knee extension one-repetition maximum (IRM)), and
strength endurance (number of repetitions at 60% of IRM for both knee flexion and knee extension). Results: STR had significant
average improvements (P < 0.05) for flexibility (18.1%), standing long jump (2.3%), vertical jump (6.7%), 20-rn sprint (1.3%), knee
flexion I RM (15.3%), knee extension I RM (32.4%), knee flexion endurance (30.4%) and knee extension endurance (28.5%). The
control group showed no improvement. Conclusion: This study suggests that chronic static stretching exercises by themselves can
improve specific exercise perfonnances. It is possible that persons who are unable to participate in traditional strength training activities
may be able to experience gains through stretching, which would allow them to transition into a more traditional exercise regimen.
Key Words: LONG JUMP, MUSCLE STRENGTH, MUSCLE ENDURANCE, SPRINTING, VERTICAL JUMP FLEXIBILITY
lexibility (joint range of motion) is widely promoted
is widely conjectured that increasing flexibility will
promote better performances and reduce the incidence of
injury (25,27). Consequently, stretching exercises designed
to enhance flexibility are regularly included in both the
training programs, and the preevent warm-up activities of
many athletes (9,12,15).
Notwithstanding the widespread acceptance and use of
stretching exercises as a major component of preevent
activities, the purported benefits of stretching on perform-
ance and injury prevention have come into question in
several review papers (9,12,15,29). In addition, recent
research has established an adverse effect of acute static
stretching on various different maximal performances.
Preevent stretching has demonstrated an inhibitory effect
on maximal force or torque production (16,21,26), vertical
jump performance (3,4), running speed (19), and muscle
as an important component of physical fitness (23). It
Address for correspondence: Arnold G. Nelson, PhD, Department of
Kinesiology, 112 Long Field House, Louisiana State University, Baton
Rouge, LA 70803; E-mail: email@example.com.
Submitted for publication November 2006.
Accepted for publication May 2007.
MEDICINE & SCIENCE IN SPORTS & EXERCISEF
Copyright © 2007 by the American College of Sports Medicine
endurance (20). In addition, a review by Hebert and Gabriel
(12) concludes that there was little, if any, link between
preactivity stretching and likelihood of injury. Thus, current
research suggests that preevent stretching activities not only
have minimal benefit for preventing injury, but also increase
the chances for lowered maximal performance.
Even though preevent stretching may be contraindicated,
the question concerning the benefits derived from doing
regular (i.e., daily, or two to three times per week)
stretching remains to be definitively answered. Unfortu-
nately, there is limited research documenting performance
benefits derived from doing regular stretching independ-
ently of any other training modality. In a recent review,
Shrier (26) reports that only nine studies had examined the
effects of regular stretching, with seven finding beneficial
effects and two showing no effect. The no-effect studies
dealt with tests of running economy, whereas the positive
studies mainly dealt with improved joint range of motion.
Of those factors related to performance (i.e., strength,
speed, power, and endurance), the majority of studies have
found improvements in strength. For example, Worrell et al.
(32) and Handel et al. (11)
isokinetic torque. Godges et al. (10) found increased trunk
strength, and Wilson et al. (3 1) found improvements in the
bench press. In addition, Dintiman (7) reports improved
sprint performance, and Hunter and Marshall (14) saw
increases in a countermovement vertical jump. Unfortu-
nately, neither Dintiman (7) nor Hunter and Marshall (14)
report strength changes. Finally, Hortobagyi et al. (13)
found increases in hamstring
TABLE 1. Subjects' descriptive data.
Female (N= 11)
Male (N= 8)
Female (N = 11)
Male (N= 8)
Values are means ± standard deviations.
22 ± 4
23 ± 3
65 ± 11
75 ± 8
167 ± 9
179 ± 9
22 ± 4
25 ± 1
66 ± 16
78 ± 13
166 ± 10
176 ± 7
report improvements in fast isometric force development as
well as the speed of concentric contractions.
The limited information on how chronic stretching by
itself alters muscle function is confounded by the lack of
uniformity in the experimental methods between the
aforementioned studies. Experimental differences include
stretching regimens inconsistency (different stretches and
stretch intensity), treatment duration (3-12 wk), and
outcome measures (strength, speed, power). In addition,
possible clinical applications for persons who are unable to
participate in traditional resistance exercise activities (i.e.,
those persons who are nonambulatory or have poor
balance) have been largely uninvestigated. Therefore, it
was the purpose of this study to determine the capacity of a
training program consisting exclusively of stretching exer-
cises to alter muscle strength, endurance, and power. This
study specifically investigated the influence of an intensive,
chronic, lower-extremity stretching routine on strength,
strength endurance, 20-m sprint, vertical jump, and standing
Subjects. Forty students enrolled at Brigham Young
University-Hawaii volunteered to participate in the study.
Before participation in the study, the students were either
physically inactive or recreationally active. During any
given week, anyone who participated in multiple days of
endurance or strength training was excluded. Also,
recreationally active was defined as sporadic participation
in sporting activities. In other words, each person had to
engage in sporting activities no more than 60 min.d-1 and
no more than three times per week. Moreover, a
recreationally active person was defined as a person who
participated in sporting activities no more than six times a
month. Descriptive values are presented in Table I. Anyone
who was currently doing regular physical training or who
initiated a regular program during the study was excluded
from the study. The appropriate institutional review board
approved the study, and each participant gave both written
and oral consent before engaging in the experiment.
Experimental design. Initially, the volunteers' sit and
reach, 20-m sprint time, vertical jump height, standing long
jump length, knee extension and knee flexion strength (one-
repetition maximum (IRM)), knee extension and knee
flexion strength endurance, and VO2peak were evaluated
during 3 d. After the pretest, the participants were randomly
assigned to either a stretching (STR) or no-stretching group
(CON), with each group balanced with respect to gender.
Both groups were instructed to maintain their current
exercise habits; however, CON was asked to refrain from
performing any stretching exercises, whereas the STR
group added a stretching program to their usual activities.
Each individual's diligence in maintaining a minimum
activity program was monitored by weekly reports. In
addition, all local recreational facilities were monitored by
the research staff, and the presence of any subjects was
noted and collaborated with their exercise logs. A pre and
post VO2peak test served as another back-up verification of
limited activity. The STR and CON programs were
performed for 10 wk. At the conclusion of the 10 wk, all
of the aforementioned tests were performed again by the
same testers, and in the exact same order and time of day as
Testing protocols. The testing was performed during
3 d with a minimum of 48 h and a maximum of 72 h of rest
between each testing session. On day 1, sit and reach,
standing long jump, 20-m sprint, and the 1 RM were
obtained. The second-day tests were the vertical jump and
muscle strength endurance. Finally on the third day, each
person's V02p,ak was obtained. To eliminate the effect of an
acute stretching bout on performance, the first day of
posttesting started 72 h after the last stretching session had
been completed. Also, as stated above, to obtain
posttreatment values, this order of testing was repeated 10
Day 1 testing protocol. First, each person warmed up
for 5 min by slowly jogging 400 m, followed by general
range-of-motion movements (i.e., leg swings, toe touches,
and ankle rotations) of the lower limbs for 2-3 min. After
warming up, sit and reach was assessed with an Acuflex I
sit-and-reach flexibility tester using a previously reported
protocol (21). Next, the standing long jump was measured.
It began with each person standing upright with the feet hip-
width apart. The jump was initiated by bending at the knees
and hips and dipping to roughly a quarter squat position,
(subjects were allowed to self-select their depth), with the
arms extended behind the body. From this position, the
person jumped horizontally with both feet as far as possible
while simultaneously swinging his or her arms forward. For
the jump to count, the person had to land on both legs
without taking either a forward or backward step. Five
submaximal warm-up/practice jumps were first performed,
followed by three maximum-effort jumps. Each jump was
separated by a -mmin rest interval, and the longest of the
three jumps was used as the score. After jumping, each
person rested for 5 min and then performed the 20-m sprint
test. The sprints were initiated from a standing start and
were timed with an automated timer (Speedtrap 1I, Brower
Timing Systems, 12660 South Fort Street, Suite 102,
Draper, UT). The timing device started when a single laser
light beam, which was placed directly in front of the person
and projected across the track, was broken. The timer
stopped when the sprinter broke a single laser light beam
Official Journal of the American College of Sports Medicine
projected across the track 20 m from the starting line. The
laser beam was positioned so that the height above the
ground approximated the height of the runners' waist. Each
person did five submaximal sprints as a warm-up/practice,
and then three maximal sprints. A 3-min rest period separated
each maximal sprint, and the best time was recorded. After
the last sprint, a I 0-min rest period was given, and this was
followed by a I RM test for knee flexion strength. A 10-min
rest period followed the knee flexion test, and, finally, a
knee extension I RM test was performed. The knee flexion
and knee extension I RM tests used the protocol of
Kokkonen et al. (16).
Day 2 testing protocol. Day 2 began with each person
warming up for 5 min by slowly jogging 400 m, followed by
lightly stretching the lower limbs for 2-3 min. This warm-up
was followed by vertical jump measures. Vertical jump
performance was measured via a Vertec testing device
(Questtek Corp., Northridge, CA) using commonly reported
methods. Reach height was established by having the subject
stand flat-footed and reach up to displace the marker on the
Vertec. The subject then performed a two-leg standing
vertical jump. To perform this measure the subject would
dip to a self-selected depth and then jump and reach the
preferred hand to displace the marker on the Vertec. Five
submaximal warm-up jumps were allowed. After the warm-
up jumps, three all-out-effort jumps were performed with a I-
rnin rest between each jump. The best of the three maximum
jUmps was used as the score. After jumping, each subject
rested for 5 min, and then performed a local muscular
endurance test. Local muscular endurance was defined as the
number of repetitions completed lifting 60% of the previous
day's I RM. The endurance of both knee flexion and knee
extension were measured and followed the protocol of
Nelson et al. (20).
Day 3 testing protocol. On day 3, the subjects
reported to the laboratory at least 2 h postprandially, and
body mass was recorded. Next, each person's VO2pcak was
measured using a running graded exercise test protocol,
detailed below. The test started with a 3-min walk at
approximately 80 m'min-1 (3 mph). Then, the initial grade
was set at 0% with a speed of either approximately 161
mrmin-1 (6 mph) for the males or approximately 134
m.min-1 (5 mph) for the females. The grade was then
increased by 2% every 2 min until the subject reached
volitional fatigue (i.e., no longer desired to keep pace with
the treadmill). Expired gases and minute ventilation were
monitored continuously with a SensorMedics series 2500
analyzer. Oxygen consumption was measured breath-by-
breath then averaged and outputted at 20-s intervals.
V0O21)c,k was defined as the highest 20-s average obtained
during the last 4 min of the test.
Stretching protocol. The 10-wk STR stretching
program consisted of 15 different static stretches designed to
stretch all of the major lower-extremity muscle groups (i.e.,
hamstrings, quadriceps, adductors, abductors, external and
internal rotators, plantar flexors, and dorsiflexors). Each of
subjects actively performed (i.e., unassisted stretching) the 15
exercises, and 12 of the 15 exercises were also performed
passively (i.e., assisted stretching). To ensure compliance and
consistency among sessions, members of the research team
did the passive stretching. For each stretch, the muscle was
held in the stretched position for 15 s, and this was repeated
three times. A 15-s rest period was implemented between
trials, and a minimum period of 1 min separated the different
exercises. Each stretching session lasted approximately
40 min and was performed 3 d'wk
Four of the 15 exercises were variations of the sit and
reach. These were performed both actively and passively by
sitting on the floor with the legs in one of four different
positions: legs parallel, legs in the lotus position, legs
abducted 450 apart, or legs abducted as far as possible.
Once in position, the subject would bend forward at the
waist as far as possible.
In another five exercises, the head was lowered towards
the knee (both passive and active) while at least one leg was
straight, but placed in different positions relative to the
body. The first position was sitting on the floor with the legs
abducted as far as possible. From here, the head was
lowered to each knee three times, alternating between
knees. The second position was sitting on the floor with
one leg placed straight out in front (0' abduction) and the
other leg in the lotus position. While in this position, the
head was lowered to the knee of the straight leg three times
before leg positions were swapped. The third and fourth
positions were performed while standing erect with one leg
resting on a table (900 hip flexion). From this position, the
participants' heads were lowered three times to the knee of
the supported leg (third position), and then the participants
would externally rotate the erect leg 900 and bend down
three times to the knee of the erect leg (fourth position).
After performing these exercises, the erect leg and support-
ing leg were switched, and the exercises were repeated. The
fifth position was standing erect with one hip flexed (> 120'
hip flexion) as much as possible with the corresponding
foot resting on a beam at eye level or above. Once in
position, the participants' heads were lowered three times to
the knee of the supported leg, and then the position of the
legs was swapped.
The next group of exercises used the standing half-lotus
position. Two exercises were performed, and both were
done actively and passively. While standing with one foot
flat on the floor, the participants placed the opposite leg in a
lotus position on a table (90' hip flexion). The participants
would then alternate lowering their head toward either the
foot (first exercise) or the knee (second exercise) of the leg
resting on the table. Each exercise was performed three
times before the leg positions were changed.
Two other activities consisted of quadriceps stretching,
with one of the activities being done only actively. The
active-only stretch required the participants to stand up
straight and balance on one leg. The non-weight-bearing
leg was flexed at the knee, and, using the corresponding
for 10 wk.
CHRONIC STRETCHING IMPROVES PERFORMANCE
Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercisee
TABLE 2. The effects of chronic stretching on selected variables.
Sit and reach
20-m sprint (s)
67.5 + 10,8
47.2 ± 11.4
68.8 ± 11.4
47.6 ± 12.1
71.3 ± 15.4
47.1 ± 7.0
72.0 ± 15.8
47.8 ± 6.6
36.2 ± 5.5
42.6 ± 5.6*
39.8 ± 6.4
38.9 ± 6.4
211.2 ± 42.3
215.8 ± 42.1"
222.1 ± 31.3 218.5 ± 32.5
43.1 ± 12.4
3.80 ± 0.51
44.7 ± 14.5
44.8 ± 12.5* 45.4 ± 11.5 45.4 ± 11.5
3.75 ± 0.48*
51.0 ± 14.1"
3.63 ± 0.33
46.1 ± 15.1
3.68 ± 0.31
47.0 ± 14.4
63.8 ± 24.5 82.0 ± 25.8* 69.7 ± 21.5 71.0 ± 20.8
17.2 ± 3.4
18.5 ± 3.1
22.3 ± 4.7*
19.5 ± 4.1
19.3 ± 4.4
23.7 ± 4.7*
18.6 ± 2.7
18.6 ± 3.6
Values are means ± standard deviations,
* Significant improvement over the pre score.
hand, the heel was held as close as possible to the buttocks.
For the other quadriceps stretch (done both actively and
passively), the participants stood with their back to a
pommel horse and then placed the dorsal side of one foot
on the pommel horse by flexing at the knee joint. From this
position, the participants would lean (or, when assisted, the
corresponding knee and shoulder were pushed) backwards.
The other two active-only stretches involved the calf
muscles. To do one of the calf stretches, the participants
first stood with one foot flat on the floor and the other foot
placed on a block so that the ball of the foot was
approximately 10 cm above the heel. The participants
would then lean forward until maximum dorsiflexion was
achieved and noticeable tension was felt in the calf. The
other calf stretch was the classic Awall push. Here, the
participants stood with one leg 15-30 cm away from a wall
with the other foot placed even further away from the wall
so that the ankle was dorsiflexed. The participants would
then lean towards the wall, keeping the heel of the
dorsiflexed foot in contact with the floor. Both the height
of the block and the distance from the wall were increased
over the duration of the program to compensate for
increases in flexibility.
Statistics. A two-way (treatment vs pre-post) repeated-
measures ANOVA was used for analysis. Post hoc ANOVA
analysis involved, where appropriate, the use of Tukey's
protected t-test. The level of significance was set at P < 0.05
and was adjusted to cover for multiple comparisons using a
Bonferroni adjustment (i.e., P value divided by number of
comparisons). For the purpose of the Bonferroni
adjustment, the data were analyzed as four separate
experiments (#1: flexibility, consisting of the sit and reach;
#2: power, consisting of the standing long jump, vertical
jump, and 20-m sprint; #3: strength, consisting of the knee
flexion and knee extension 1 RM; and #4: endurance,
consisting of the knee flexion and knee extension endurance
tests). Hence, for significance at the 0.05 level to occur, the
I-score needed to exceed the required t-score for P < 0.05
for the flexibility tests, P < 0.017 for the power tests, and
P < 0.025 for both the strength and endurance tests. In
addition, effect size was expressed via the generalized
omega squared (WGo2) statistic, using the formula
recommended for repeated-measure designs (22). Olejnik
and Algina (22), however, point out that WG
little meaning, and is best used when comparing results
between differing experiments with similar experimental
2 by itself has
The influences of the stretching program on all measures
are shown in Table 2. Thirty-eight subjects successfully
completed the study. The reason the two subjects (one from
STR and one from CON) gave for dropping out of the study
was the desire to initiate a more strenuous exercise
program. None of the STR group missed more than 2 of
the 30 training sessions, and none of the missed 2 d were
consecutive. For both the STR and CON subjects, no one
participated in sporting activities for more than 18 d during
the whole 10 wk. Moreover, for any given week, no one
participated in more than 3 d of sporting activities. Finally,
there were no group differences in the total number of
activity days, but CON had the top three most active
individuals (> 15 activity days). Pre to post body mass and
"VO2pcak were analyzed for both STR and CON. Neither the
difference in body mass nor VO2peak changed significantly
during the study.
Flexibility. For STR, the number of centimeters traveled
during the sit and reach increased on average 18. 1%, whereas
the CON distance changed, on average, -2.4%. A 95%
confidence interval for the difference between the STR and
CON changes was 20.5% ± 5.5%. The interaction between
treatment and pre-post (F(1, 18) = 60.9, P < 0.0001, WG 2 =
0.088) was significant. Post hoc analysis showed that this
significance was attributable to the STR gain.
Power. For the standing long jump, STR averaged a
2.3% increase, whereas CON had a 1.7% decrease. A 95%
confidence interval for the difference between the STR and
CON changes was 4.0 ± 1.7%. The interaction between
treatment and pre-post (F(l, 18) = 20.3, P = 0.0003, COG2
0.003) was significant, and the post hoc analysis showed
that this significance was attributable to the STR gain. The
vertical jump results varied from the standing long jump
results. In this case, STR averaged an increase of 6.7%,
whereas CON remained virtually unchanged (0.1%
increase). A 95% confidence interval for the difference
between the STR and CON changes was 6.6 + 4.5%. Like
the standing long jump, the interaction between treatment
and pre-post (F(1, 18) = 7.4, P = 0.0138, COG
the vertical jump was significant, whereas the post hoc
analysis showed that this significance was attributable to
only the STR gain. Finally, the STR 20-m sprint time
averaged a decrease of 1.3%, and CON averaged an
increase of 1.4%. For this measure, a 95% confidence
2 = 0.002) for
1828 Official Journal of the American College of Sports Medicine
interval for the difference between the STR and CON
changes was -2.8 ± 1.4%. In addition, the interaction
between treatment and pre-post (F(1, 18) = 11.6, P =
analysis showed that this significance was attributable to the
Strength and endurance. The IRM for the STR
group increased, on average, for both knee flexion (15.3%)
and knee extension (32.4%). Likewise, the CON group had
on average increases of 3.3% for knee flexion and 2.8% for
knee extension. For knee flexion, a 95% confidence interval
for the difference between the STR and CON changes was
12.4 ± 5.8%. Also, a 95% confidence interval for the
difference between the STR and CON changes for knee
extension was 29.6 ± 13.2%. In addition, the interactions
between treatment and pre-post for both knee flexion IRM
(F(l, 18) = 7.4, P < 0.0001,
extension I RM (F(l, 18) = 53.4, P < 0.0001, COG
were significant, whereas the post hoc analysis showed that
this significance was attributable only to the STR gain.
The endurance changes were slightly different from the
strength changes. STR endurance increased, on average, for
both knee flexion (30.4%) and knee extension (28.5%). On
the other hand, CON endurance was nearly unchanged for
both knee flexion (-0.9%) and knee extension (-0.1%).
The 95% confidence intervals for the difference between the
STR and CON knee flexion and knee extension endurance
changes were 31.3 + 10.8 and 28.6 + 10.3%, respectively.
Again, the interactions between treatment and pre-post for
both knee flexion endurance (F(l, 18) = 38.4, P < 0.0001,
2 = 0.095) and knee extension endurance (F(l, 18) =
34.4, P < 0.0001, WG 2 = 0.114) were significant, whereas
the post hoc analysis showed that the STR changes were
responsible for the significance.
2 = 0.004) was significant, and the post hoc
2 = 0.009) and knee
2 = 0.034)
Notwithstanding the widespread acceptance and use of
stretching exercises as a component of exercise training,
there is limited research documenting the benefits derived
from including regular (i.e., daily, or two or three times per
week) stretching into a training program. This is especially
true concerning any benefits derived from performing
stretching exercises exclusive of any other training modal-
ity. As mentioned above, previous research indicates that
the primary benefit derived from regular stretching, exclu-
sive from increased range of motion, is increased strength.
Unfortunately, although strength gains are correlated with
performance gains, this correlation does not imply a direct
cause and effect. Moreover, the stretching activities typi-
cally recommended (23) to be included in training programs
are of a lower magnitude than those used to achieve the
reported strength gains in the aforementioned studies.
Hence, this study was designed to ascertain whether an
intensive regular stretching program could improve several
of the aspects of physical performance. The results of this
study suggest that 40 min of static stretching three times per
week for 10 wk increases flexibility, strength, endurance,
and power in the lower extremity. Thus, the results of this
study support the inclusion of stretching activities in
training programs for untrained or recreationally trained
Although this study was not designed to investigate the
responsible mechanism(s), it is most probable that the
improved power and endurance are strongly related to
the strength improvements. Our finding that several days of
static stretching have the capacity to improve strength is not
novel. After 15 d of static stretching hamstrings, Worrell et
al. (32) reported increases in maximal voluntary isokinetic
torque. Eccentric torque increased 8.5% at 1.05 rad's-1 and
13.5% at 2.1 rad.s- , whereas concentric isokinetic torque
increased 11.2% at 2.1 rad's-'. How the stretching
programs caused strength gains is up to speculation;
however, passive stretching is related to muscle hyper-
trophy. For instance, a continually applied stretch for 10 d
can trigger myoblast proliferation (6). In addition, Stauber
et al. (28) stretched rat soleus muscles three times a week
for 4 wk, and they found muscle mass to be increased by
13% and fiber area by 30%. Similar results have been
reported by Coutinho et al. (5), who report a 16% increase
in rat soleus fiber area by stretching the muscle for 40 min
every 3 d for 3 wk.
The gains in power could also be attributed to increases
in muscle length. Increases in length lead to increases in
both contractile velocities and the forces generated at a
given shortening velocity (17). In situ lengthening has been
reported through the application of continuous stretch
through diverse mechanisms such as casting a muscle in a
stretched position, increasing bone length, or relocating
tendon insertions (for a review, see Lieber (17)). Also,
muscle-lengthening results from programs of intermittent
stretching performed for several days. For example,
Williams report that 30 min of daily stretching was
sufficient to cause an increase in the number of sarco-
meres in series (30). Likewise, Coutinho et al. (5) have
reported a 5% increase in length and a 4% increase in serial
sarcomere number after stretching for 40 min every 3 d for
Conversely, the improvement seen in this study may not
be related to the stretching exercises. It is possible that the
strength gains in each leg were the result of muscle
contractions in the nonstretched leg when it was used to
stabilize the body during the stretches. Although in some
cases standing on one leg can lead to a stabilization or
proprioceptive stimulus, it is unlikely that this phenome-
non is a major factor in this current study. First, studies have
shown that it is the lower-leg muscles rather than the
thigh muscles that are the most active during exercises
requiring postural stability maintenance (2). More impor-
tantly, those studies (1,2,24) that found improved strength
from proprioceptive training typically placed the subjects
in unstable conditions (i.e., some kind of wobble board).
CHRONIC STRETCHING IMPROVES PERFORMANCE
Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercises
This type of stimulus would not seem to be consistent with
the demands of this current study, where, during the stretch,
the subjects had at least two points of balance resting on a
Although the improvements in muscle strength, endur-
ance, and power are a desired training modification for the
athletic population, the results of this study do not suggest
that stretching exercises alone could either supplant or
enhance existing training programs. Although the stretching
improved the perfonrance of sporadically active individu-
als, it is not known whether people with more trained
muscles will respond similarly to the stretching stimulus.
Also, because the stretching program was performed sin-
gularly, it is inadvisable to assume that combining stretch-
ing with strength training would produce additive benefits.
Clearly, there is a need to further research the influence
repetitive stretching has on athletic performance. This study
could serve as a springboard for further investigation, such
as whether trained individuals respond the same as the re-
creationally active person, or whether the stretching regi-
mens are additive to usual strength training gains.
On the other hand, improvements in muscle strength,
endurance, and power can also be important to the
nonathletic population. Several studies have established a
link between muscular fitness and overall health or the
likelihood of early death (8,13,18). Unfortunately, most
persons who are at the lowest end of the muscular fitness
continuum also have difficulty performing the usual
activities found to generate improvements in muscular
fitness. Thus, these people are likely to experience a
continual spiraling decline in both muscular performance
and overall health. It is possible that a chronic stretching
program could be used in rehabilitation settings as a mode
of exercise for those unable to participate in more tradi-
tional exercise regimens. Considering that our results in this
current study indicate an average of a 23.9% increase in
1. BALOGUN, J. A., C. 0. ADESINASi, and D. K. MARZOUK. The effects
of wobble board exercise training program on static balance
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Granted, this study did not exam severely challenged
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change would be similar. Moreover, the stretching program
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CHRONIC STRETCHING IMPROVES PERFORMANCE
Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercises
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TITLE: Chronic Static Stretching Improves Exercise Performance
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