Pre-training and competition warm-up modalities play an important role in subsequent physical performance. A considerable amount of evidence has amassed supporting the use of dynamic stretching over longer duration static stretching prior to physical activity. The lengthening of the muscles that occurs during static stretching tends to transiently reduce strength and power ability if the stretch is held for too long. Dynamic stretching involves applying a brief stretch to a given muscle or group of muscles through its range of motion and then allowing for it to return to its resting length. Performed for several repetitions, dynamic stretches allow the brain to adjust to the enhanced ranges of motion without affecting the resting length of the muscle.
Kruse et al. (2013) out of Ohio University set out to determine how performance is affected following static stretching versus dynamic stretching versus control (no stretching) in Division 1 female volleyball players. On 3 different days the athletes performed 3 different warm-ups followed by counter-movement jump testing at 1, 5, 15 and 25 minutes following the stretching protocol. The stretching protocol involved 30 seconds worth of dynamic or static stretching or no stretching. The results showed that dynamic stretching resulted in significantly higher jump scores at 1 and 5 minutes following the warm-up, but not at the 15 or 20 minute mark. Static stretching, as expected, resulted in decreased jump performance at 1 minute post stretching, but returned to control values by minute 5 and maintained.
The results of this study demonstrated that dynamic stretching had a positive impact on jumping performance when assessed within 5 minutes of the stretching period. This suggests that the timing of this type of warm-up activity is critical to garner its performance enhancing abilities. Performance was not assessed at the 10 minute mark so it is unclear from this investigation at what point performance tends to return to baseline following dynamic stretching. Practically, coaches may want to consider a similar pre-competition warm-up strategy to prevent excessively long periods of inactivity prior to competition in effort to maximize the performance enhancing effects of dynamic warm-ups. Furthermore, static stretching should be use earlier on to avoid potential acute performance decrements.
Kruse, N. T., Barr, M. W., Gilders, R. M., Kushnick, M. R., & Rana, S. R. (2013). Using a Practical Approach for Determining the Most Effective Stretching Strategy in Female College Division I Volleyball Players. J Strength Cond Res, 27(11): 3060-3067.