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    Sports Medicine

Stretching & Sprint Performance

A few weeks ago, one of our classmates reviewed several studies regarding the effects of different stretching techniques on single repetition maximum lifts, flexibility and range of motion. The ultimate measure of effectiveness of stretching for an athlete, however, is to measure its effects on performance. This study adds to the growing body of research indicating that stretching does not improve sprinting performance. Imagine a floppy rubber band. You pull it back a few inches and fling it sloppily in one direction. Imagine a smaller, tighter rubber band. When you pull it taught the same distance you did with the floppy rubber band and release it, a greater velocity and force is behind the band when it smacks someone in the face. That's stretching and sprint performance in a nutshell. Stretching makes your bands floppy. Tight muscles have more elastic give, providing a greater capacity for force production. Warm up routines, therefore, should be more centered around movement preparation (like a practice sprint) rather than stretching to activate and prime key muscles for work.

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