Sit and hold stretching is often overlooked in today’s training environments. The rise of myofascial release (MR) using foam rollers and proprioceptive neuromuscular release (PNF) stretching have overshadowed this timeless classic.

As a weightlifter, flexibility and full range of motion (ROM) is critical for performance and injury prevention. Despite beneficial effects of static stretching post exercise, athletes often neglect fundamental flexibility routines that may otherwise increase their squat depth, ankle mobility, and performance.

Positive Benefits of Static Stretching

  • Increased joint ROM due to decrease neural activity and motor neuron excitement, resulting in decrease muscle stiffness.
  • Increased economy of joint and muscular motion during exercise
  • Reduction of injury in sports, such as sprinting and military training
  • Improved performance in exercises involving the stretch shortening cycle (jumping, sprinting, explosive hip movements)
  • Some research suggests 2-5% increase in performance (improved force and power output) over time due to static stretching.

Negative Effect of Static Stretching

  • Potential acute reductions in muscle performance including maximal strength, power, speed-dependent performance, maximal muscle strength, and explosive performance in static stretches performed of more than 60 seconds prior to exercise.

The importance of these findings suggest that athletes who rely on optimal strength, power, and explosiveness should use static stretching after training sessions to restore full range of motion. In athletes whose range of motion is clearly a limiting factor, static stretching can be a viable training tool, in addition to other means of mobility, such as MR and PNF techniques. Both techniques have been shown to be more effective at improving flexibility when combined with static stretching than if done solely by themselves.

What Stretches Should You Do

There are a plethora of static stretched out there that all serve a purpose. As weightlifters, we need exceptional range of motion in the:

  • Ankles
  • Hamstrings
  • Internal and external rotation of the hips
  • Shoulders
  • Wrists

Below are some of my favorite stretches that I have integrated into my training program, often borrowed from top weightlifters around the globe.

Ankle Dorsiflexion Stretch

Dorsiflexion is critical in deep squatting and catching of snatch and cleans. You can do this with any external load to stretch the posterior ankle complex.

Weighted/Partner Pancake Hold

A photo posted by Mike Dewar (@mikejdewar) on

Perform this with weight or a partner, or simply under your own control. I often find myself shifting my legs around to find the best stretches for that day.

90/90 Hip Mobility

The combination of static holds, isometric contractions, and movement turn this static stretch classic into a three headed mobility monster.

Partner Shoulder/Chest Stretch

This chest opener stretch requires a partner. Find a coach or athlete to help you out and return the favor.

Wrists

I often find myself doing both static holds as well as movement based stretches to increase wrist mobility and health.

Parting Note

There are a lot of conflicting reports and insight on whether or not athletes should/can benefit from static stretching. Coaches and athletes should be 100% comfortable in whatever decision that they make, however it is important to look at the current and previous findings for both arguments. Static stretching prior to exercise can be detrimental to performance, and therefore dynamic stretching and warm-ups should be implemented to better prepare athletes prior to training.

Editors note: This article is an op-ed. The views expressed herein are the authors and don’t necessarily reflect the views of BarBend. Claims, assertions, opinions, and quotes have been sourced exclusively by the author.

Featured Image: @mikejdewar on Instagram

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Mike holds a Master's in Exercise Physiology and a Bachelor's in Exercise Science. Currently, Mike has been with BarBend since 2016, where he covers Olympic weightlifting, sports performance training, and functional fitness. He's a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and is the Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach at New York University, in which he works primarily with baseball, softball, track and field, cross country. Mike is also the Founder of J2FIT, a strength and conditioning brand in New York City that offers personal training, online programs for sports performance, and has an established USAW Olympic Weightlifting club.In his first two years writing with BarBend, Mike has published over 500+ articles related to strength and conditioning, Olympic weightlifting, strength development, and fitness. Mike’s passion for fitness, strength training, and athletics was inspired by his athletic career in both football and baseball, in which he developed a deep respect for the barbell, speed training, and the acquisition on muscle.Mike has extensive education and real-world experience in the realms of strength development, advanced sports conditioning, Olympic weightlifting, and human movement. He has a deep passion for Olympic weightlifting as well as functional fitness, old-school bodybuilding, and strength sports.Outside of the gym, Mike is an avid outdoorsman and traveller, who takes annual hunting and fishing trips to Canada and other parts of the Midwest, and has made it a personal goal of his to travel to one new country, every year (he has made it to 10 in the past 3 years). Lastly, Mike runs Rugged Self, which is dedicated to enjoying the finer things in life; like a nice glass of whiskey (and a medium to full-bodied cigar) after a hard day of squatting with great conversations with his close friends and family.