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Patrice Rougier, Cyril Burdet and Nicolas Genthon

To assess whether prior stretching of a muscle can induce improved postural control, 15 healthy adults stood still upright with their eyes closed before and after a series of bilateral stretches of the triceps surae muscles. The analysis focused on the center of pressure (CP) and the vertical projection of the center of gravity (CGv) trajectories and their difference (CP – CGv). The prolonged stretching induced a forward shift of the mean position of the CGv. The frequency analysis showed a constancy of the amplitudes of both basic movements whereas an increased mean power frequency was seen for the CP – CGv movements. A fractional Brownian motion modeling of the trajectories indicates shortest time intervals and lower covered distances by the CGv before a change in its control occurs along the antero-posterior axis. This reorganization is thought to be a result of improved body movement detection, which allows postural control over the longest time intervals to be triggered more rapidly.

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Warren B. Young

Static stretching (SS) is widely used in warm-ups before training and competition. A growing amount of research, however, has demonstrated that SS can impair muscle performance, leading to a reevaluation of optimal warm-up protocols. This commentary discusses many of the methodological issues that can influence conclusions about the acute effects of SS on performance. One difficulty in interpreting the literature is the lack of control or communication about the volume and intensity of the various stretching treatments used. Another major issue is the failure of many researchers to evaluate SS as it is used in practice, particularly the interaction with the other general and sport-specific components of the warm-up. Acute warm-up effects on performance should be considered in conjunction with potential effects on injury prevention. Future directions in research include optimizing general and sport-specific warm-ups, time course of physiological and performance effects, and individualization of warm-ups according to fitness and skill level.

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Paige E. Rice, Herman van Werkhoven, Edward K. Merritt and Jeffrey M. McBride

The effect of rigorous dance training from a young age might result in positive adaptations to lower leg morphology and well-developed stretch-shortening cycle (SSC) strategies, which fortify performance. The sizable volume of hyperplantarflexion and minimal knee flexion involved in dance skills

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Michael J. Grey, Charles W. Pierce, Theodore E. Milner and Thomas Sinkjaer

The modulation and strength of the human soleus short latency stretch reflex was investigated by mechanically perturbing the ankle during an unconstrained pedaling task. Eight subjects pedaled at 60 rpm against a preload of 10 Nm. A torque pulse was applied to the crank at various positions during the crank cycle, producing ankle dorsiflexion perturbations of similar trajectory. The stretch reflex was greatest during the power phase of the crank cycle and was decreased to the level of background EMG during recovery. Matched perturbations were induced under static conditions at the same crank angle and background soleus EMG as recorded during the power phase of active pedaling. The magnitude of the stretch reflex during the dynamic condition was not statistically different from that during the static condition throughout the power phase of the movement. The results of this study indicate that the stretch reflex is not depressed during active cycling as has been shown with the H-reflex. This lack of depression may reflect a decreased susceptibility of the stretch reflex to inhibition, possibly originating from presynaptic mechanisms.

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Olfa Turki, Wissem Dhahbi, Johnny Padulo, Riadh Khalifa, Sana Ridène, Khaled Alamri, Mirjana Milić, Sabri Gueid and Karim Chamari

research identified substantial improvements in explosive activities (ie, sprinting, jumping, and agility) using various warm-up strategies, few studies have focused on team sports. 4 , 5 Dynamic stretching (DS) warm-ups must be designed for the specific needs of both the player and the sporting activity

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Jeni R. McNeal and William A. Sands

Several studies utilizing adult subjects have indicated that static stretching may reduce subsequent strength and power production, possibly for as long as an hour following the stretch. This observation has not been evaluated in children, nor in athletes accustomed to performing static stretches during strength/power type training sessions. The purpose of this investigation was to determine if an acute bout of passive, static stretching of the lower extremity would affect jumping performance in a group of young, female gymnasts. Thirteen competitive gymnasts (age 13.3 − 2.6 yrs) performed drop jumps under two conditions: immediately following stretching and without prior stretching. The jumps were performed on separate days. The conditions were randomly ordered among the subjects. Time in the air (AIR) and ground contact time (CT) were measured during the drop jumps using a timing mat. Three different stretches of the lower extremity were conducted on each gymnast twice, each stretch being held for 30 seconds. Following the stretching condition, AIR was significantly reduced (.44 vs .46 sec, p < .001), while CT was not different (.130 for both conditions, p > .05). This study demonstrates that children’s lower extremity power is reduced when the performance immediately follows passive, static stretching, even in children accustomed to static stretching during training sessions involving explosive power.

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Miguel A. Sanchez-Lastra, Antonio J. Molina, Vicente Martin, Tania Fernández-Villa, Jose M. Cancela and Carlos Ayan

stretching exercises, proposed in numerous RCTs ( Collins et al., 2018 ; Desjardins-Crépeau et al., 2016 ; Fraser et al., 2017 ; Li et al., 2005 ; Liu-Ambrose, Khan, Eng, Lord, & McKay, 2004b ; Pothier et al., 2018 ; Rodrigues-Krause et al., 2018 ) as an active control, on the basis that they are

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Stéphane Perrey, Guillaume Millet, Robin Candau and Jean-Denis Rouillon

The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of speed on the stretch-shortening cycle (SSC) behavior during roller ski skating. Ten highly skilled male cross-country skiers roller skied at 4.56, 5.33 m · s–1 and maximal speed using the V2-alternate technique on a flat terrain. Knee and ankle joint kinematics, and EMG of the vastus lateralis (VL) and gastrocnemius lateralis (GL) muscles were recorded during the last 40 s of each bout of roller skiing. Maximal speed was associated with increases in cycle rate combined with decreases in cycle length. For VL, no significant differences were observed for the integrated EMG eccentric-to-concentric ratio (iEMG Ecc/Conc) and for the stretching velocity over the range of speeds. For GL, stretching velocity and iEMG Ecc/Conc were significantly greater at maximal speed. The analysis of GL EMG activity suggests that speed improved GL stiffness so that more elastic energy was stored, a better force transmission occurred, and coupling time decreased. These findings suggest that the efficiency of roller ski skating locomotion may be increased with speed through a better use of the stretch-shortening cycle pattern in the ankle extensors.

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Richard G. Mynark and David M. Koceja

The spinal stretch reflex consists of a relatively simple neuronal network. The Ia afferent fiber of the muscle spindle communicates to the alpha motoneuron via a single synapse. This basic pathway has been studied extensively over the past century, yet considerable information continues to emerge concerning the manner in which this pathway adapts to aging. It is well accepted that the amplitude of the spinal stretch reflex declines with normal aging, and it is intuitively agreed that these changes have a detrimental impact on the motor output of aging individuals. Understanding the changes observed in the spinal stretch reflex pathway due to aging requires a recognition of the changes that can occur in each component of this spinal network. This review will address these changes by following the spinal stretch reflex from initiation to completion. The components that result in the sensory input to the motoneuron will be covered first, followed by a review of the physiological changes that can occur to the motoneuron soma that can affect the processing of the sensory input. The output of the motoneuron encompasses the remaining components from the motor axon itself, to the neuromuscular junction, and then to the characteristic changes in the muscle. Finally, the functional effect that these changes have on the reflex as a fundamental motor behavior will be addressed, especially in terms of its impact on posture and balance.

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Jason Brandenburg, William A. Pitney, Paul E. Luebbers, Arun Veera and Alicja Czajka

Purpose:

To examine the acute effects of static stretching on countermovement vertical-jump (CMVJ) ability and monitor the time course of any stretch-induced changes.

Methods:

Once familiarized, 16 experienced jumpers completed 2 testing sessions in a randomized order. Each session consisted of a general warm-up, a pretreatment CMVJ assessment, a treatment, and multiple posttreatment CMVJ assessments. One treatment included lower-body static stretching, and the second treatment, involving no stretching, was the control. Posttreatment CMVJ measures occurred immediately, 3, 6, 12, and 24 minutes posttreatment. Stretching consisted of 3 static-stretching exercises, with each exercise repeated 3 times and each repetition held for 30 s.

Results:

Prestretch CMVJ height equaled 47.1 (± 9.7) cm. CMVJ height immediately poststretch was 45.7 (± 9.2) cm, and it remained depressed during the 24-min follow-up period. Pre-no-stretch CMVJ height was 48.4 (± 9.8) cm, whereas immediately post-no-stretch CMVJ height equaled 46.8 (± 9.5) cm, and as in the stretch treatment, post-no-stretch CMVJ height remained lower than pre-no-stretch values. Although there was a significant main effect of time (P = .005), indicating that CMVJ was lower and remained impaired after both treatments, no significant interaction effect (P = .749) was observed.

Conclusion:

In comparison with the no-activity control, static stretching resulted in similar reductions in CMVJ ability when examined over the same time course, so athletes preparing for CMVJ should avoid periods of inactivity, as well as static stretching.