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:
- Internal and external rotation of the hips
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
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.
I often find myself doing both static holds as well as movement based stretches to increase wrist mobility and health.
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.
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