Pre Performance Warm-Up Stretches

Pre Performance Warm-Up Stretches

Pre Performance Warm-Up Stretches

Pre-performance warm-up stretches: a commonly debated subject among many fitness professionals when we move into Level 4 Qualifications.

Do pre-performance warm-up stretches have a place in training with athletes? Or are they redundant? In this blog, we look at the evidence to see whether they are essential or are down to the trainer's discretion.

Moving from training clients into athletes opens many more doors in your career. It's a great career move if you’re passionate about a particular sport, want to use your own experience or are just interested in taking the next step in your career.

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When we move into training athletes it opens a discussion for both exploration and reservation. With great information available, it can sometimes still come down to the trainer's own thoughts and judgement. 

So when it comes to stretching, does it enhance performance or hinder it?

Dan Pratt's Article, ‘A critical review on the acute effects of various stretching methods on performance’  gives us a theoretical standpoint on the subject. It explores the subject of pre-performance warm-up stretches and the acute effects of commonly used pre-performance stretching protocols. 

The article also looks at key decision-making when deciding on the stretches and the practices to use them. 

Let’s take a closer look at his research starting with some background on the subject:

“Research into the use of stretching and warm-ups for athletic performance is known to have begun in the 1930s and to date, it has been suggested that the main acute benefits of stretching for athletic performance are to increase performance and to reduce the risk of injury.

These acute benefits to performance are believed to occur due to a number of factors, such as an increase in the range of movement at joints, enhanced muscular coordination and a reduction in muscular resistance to movement” Pratt, 15

Pratt makes a clear point that there are lots of affecting factors that can enhance the overall athletic performance, however, upon research, the literature regarding pre-workout warm-ups and stretching is difficult to find. 

Therefore, does it come down to the personal experience of the trainer, using their prior knowledge to modify and adapt exercises to suit the athlete?

Do we as trainers need to take some responsibility for researching the subject and form our own opinion based on our findings?

Pratt goes on to discuss the type of stretching, volume and intensity of the stretching. Does this affect the outcome of the pre-workout stretching on the athlete? 

In his findings, Pratt goes on to discuss:

“In the field of modern-day athletic performance, it has been suggested that stretching has possible benefits over the longer and shorter term, including a possible role in the reduction of injury risks.” Pratt, 18

He concludes:

“It is likely that neither mechanical nor neuromuscular mechanisms, which may be affected via stretching, will be altered significantly enough to have any detrimental impact on performance. 

This review does not suggest that static stretching protocols should replace the more active protocols currently used rather it advises that if static stretching protocols are to be used- for example in sports requiring enhanced ROM, they should be carried out prior to an active element and sometime before the performance, so as to reduce any fears over reductions in performance levels” Pratt, 18

Pratt makes a valid point in his discussion, concluding that they shouldn't replace but enhance the athlete’s training. 

Using them before the performance workout can enhance the outcome of the workout if done in the correct manner and selecting the right pre-performance stretches.

Pratt makes some valid arguments here, however, we don't think it is as simple as just one article but further research into the subject to form an opinion that works for your athlete.

Check out the full article here:

Dan Pratt, A critical review on the acute effects of various stretching methods on performance, ACUTE EFFECTS OF STRETCHING pg: 13, 18

What do you think? Share your thoughts with us in the comments box below. We would love to know about your experiences and research!

Want to learn more about how you can develop and train Athletes? Become a Level 4 Strength and Conditioning Coach.

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