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Acute effects of muscle stretching

1 Mar 2016

A recent review, which was co-authored by Associate Professor Tony Kay at the University of Northampton, has examined hundreds of studies examining the acute effects of static, dynamic, and proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF) stretching on muscle injury risk, range of motion and muscular performance.

The research has new recommendations for fitness enthusiasts, athletes, coaches and rehabilitation practitioners – and its controversial findings have already been picked up by leading publications, including Men’s Fitness, Medical Daily, Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology, and The New York Times.

Associate Professor Kay explained: “Improving our flexibility is important so that we can safely compete in sports and complete our daily tasks. It’s of even greater importance in clinical settings where injured, diseased or physically impaired individuals strive to regain normal physical function.”

He continued: “Over the last 15 years we have been told that static stretching could cause performance impairments and that it does not reduce injury risk.  As a result, researchers, coaches and governing bodies have recommended a switch from static stretching to dynamic stretching.”

However, the conclusions of the systematic review contradict common recommendations from the last 15 years and highlights several misconceptions and limitations in the literature.  Associate Professor Kay added: “It is vital that we critically examine the literature to ensure appropriate recommendations are made to the public, especially activities that promote health.”

The comprehensive review titled ‘Acute effects of muscle stretching on physical performance, range of motion, and injury incidence in healthy active individuals: a systematic review’, has been made open access by the publishers and appears in the January edition of Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism.

Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism is a monthly journal that focuses on the application of physiology, nutrition, and metabolism to the study of human health, physical activity, and fitness.  The review’s findings have been endorsed by the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology (CSEP) with a Position Stand embedded within the review.

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