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.
Patrice Rougier, Cyril Burdet and Nicolas Genthon
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.