Static Active Stretching
Static stretching is simply the opposite of dynamic stretching. The muscle groups are stretched without moving the limb itself and the end position is held for up to 30 seconds (1,2)
Static active stretching requires the strength of the opposing muscle groups to hold the limb in position for the stretch. For example, standing on one leg and holding the opposite leg out directly in front of you is classed as a static active stretch. The quadriceps actively hold the stretched limb.
Static active stretching is an effective way to increase active flexibility. A martial artist raising her leg up to an opponent's head and holding it there, is a good demonstration of static active flexibility. Being able to simply kick to head height is an example of dynamic flexibility.
A static active stretch should be held for 10-30 seconds for 1-2 stretches per muscle group. As with other forms of stretching, static active stretching is not recommended before a sporting event. It may impair balance and reaction time (3) and reduce power output and without any of the benefits of injury prevention (4,5,6).
As part of a warm up routine, incorporate dynamic stretches, which can help reduce muscle tightness and reduce the risk of injury.
1) Bandy, W.D., and J.M. Irion. The effects of time on static stretch on the flexibility of the hamstrings muscles. Phys. Ther. 74(9):845-50. 1994
2) Bandy, W.D., J.M. Irion, and M. Briggler. The effect of time and frequency of static stretching on flexibility of the hamstrings muscles. Phys. Ther. 77(10):1090-6. 1997
3) Behm, D.G., Bambury, A., Cahill, F., Power, K. Effect of acute static stretching on force, balance, reaction time, and movement time. Med Sci Sports Exerc. Aug;36(8):1397-402. 2004 4) Yamaguchi, T., Ishii, K. Effects of static stretching for 30 seconds and dynamic stretching on leg extension power. J. Strength Cond. Res. Aug;19(3):677-83. 2005
5) Cramer, J.T., Housh, T.J., Weir, J.P., Johnson, G.O., Coburn, J.W., Beck, T.W. The acute effects of static stretching on peak torque, mean power output, electromyography, and mechanomyography. Eur. J. Appl. Physiol. Mar;93(5-6):530-9. 2005. Epub 2004 Dec 15.
6) Shrier, I. Stretching before exercise does not reduce the risk of local muscle injury: A critical review of the clinical and basic science literature. Clinical J. Sports Med. 9: 221-7. 1999
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