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Stretching decreases 1 mile running performance

Posted on Saturday, 11 May, 2013 by anthony

Previous research has demonstrated that pre-exercise static stretching can negatively impact on muscular performance by reducing 1 repetition maximum, muscle strength endurance and exercise efficiency. Recent research found that pre-exercise stretching can decrease 1 mile running performance (Lowery et al., 2013). The study, published in the Journal of strength and conditioning research, looked at the effects of static stretching on 1 mile uphill run performance in a group of trained distance runners (Age = 24±5 yr, VO2max of 64.9 ± 6.5 mL•kg•min).

About the research:

The runners completed two 1 mile timed runs on two separate days (72 hours apart) as well as a VO2max test. For the 1 mile timed run subjects completed an initial 5 minute treadmill warm-up and then either completed static stretches (6 different lower body stretches – 3 sets of 30seconds for each stretch) or sat still for ten minutes.

What the researchers found:

The researchers found that the time to complete the run was significantly quicker when subjects didn’t complete the pre-exercise stretches. The researchers also observed that the ground contact time and muscle activation increased following static stretching – both an increase in ground contact time and increased muscle activation indicate decreased efficiency. Interestingly another recent study looking at muscle strength after static stretching reported decreased lower body stability following static stretching.

The researchers concluded that static stretching negatively affects performance during short endurance bouts.

Practical applications

The researchers recommended that static stretching should be avoided before short bouts of endurance exercise. All though this research was limited to the effect of stretching on 1 mile run performance, previous research has demonstrated reduced muscle strength endurance, maximum strength, and exercise efficiency, and therefore should probably be avoided prior to competing in events where reduced stability may negatively affect exercise performance.


Lowery RP, Joy JM, Brown LE, Oliveira de Souza E, Wistocki DR, Davis GS, Naimo MA, Zito GA, Wilson JM. (2013) Effects of Static Stretching on 1 Mile Uphill Run Performance. J Strength Cond Res. 2013 Apr 12. [Epub ahead of print]

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