Pre-exercise stretching does not impact upon running economy

Phil Hayes, Adrian Walker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Citations (Scopus)


Pre-exercise stretching has been widely reported to reduce performance in tasks requiring maximal or near-maximal force or torque. The purpose of this study was to compare the effects of 3 different pre-exercise stretching routines on running economy. Seven competitive male middle and long-distance runners (mean ± SD) age: 32.5 ± 7.7 years; height: 175.0 ± 8.8 cm; mass: 67.8 ± 8.6 kg; VO^sub 2^max: 66.8 ± 7.0^sup -1^.min^sup -1^) volunteered to participate in this study. Each participant completed 4 different pre-exercise conditions: (a) a control condition, (b) static stretching, (c) progressive static stretching, and (d) dynamic stretching. Each stretching routine consisted of 2 × 30-second stretches for each of 5 exercises. Dependent variables measured were sit and reach test before and after each pre-exercise routine, running economy (^sup -1^.km^sup -1^), and steady-state oxygen uptake (^sup -1^min^sup -1^), which were measured during the final 3 minutes of a 10-minute run below lactate threshold. All 3 stretching routines resulted in an increase in the range of movement (p = 0.008). There was no change in either running economy (p = 0.915) or steady-state VO^sub 2^ (p = 0.943). The lack of change in running economy was most likely because it was assessed after a period of submaximal running, which may have masked any effects from the stretching protocols. Previously reported reductions in performance have been attributed to reduced motor unit activation, presumably IIX. In this study, these motor units were likely not to have been recruited; this may explain the unimpaired performance. This study suggests that pre-exercise stretching has no impact upon running economy or submaximal exercise oxygen cost.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1227-1232
JournalJournal of Strength and Conditioning Research
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2007


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