Static stretching improves flexibility over resistance training, according to conventional wisdom, but a study presented at the American College of Sports Medicine's 57th Annual Meeting in Baltimore in June 2010 suggests that strength training may work just as well, if not better, at increasing an athlete's flexibility.
"The results suggest that carefully constructed, full-range resistance training regimens can improve flexibility as well as-or perhaps better than-typical static stretching regimens," said James R. Whitehead, Ed.D., FACSM, presenting author of the study.
Twenty-five college-age volunteers were randomly assigned to groups performing either resistance training or static stretching. A 12-person control group remained inactive. All were pre-tested on hamstring extension, hip flexion and extension, and shoulder extension flexibility, as well as peak torque of quadriceps and hamstring muscles. The resistance training and stretching programs focused on the same muscle-joint complexes over similar movements and ranges. Post-tests measured flexibility and strength.
Surprising results, but more study needed
The results - which may surprise advocates of stretching to improve flexibility - showed no statistically significant advantage of stretching over resistance training. Resistance training, in fact, produced greater improvements in flexibility in some cases, while also improving strength.
Whitehead emphasized that the study was preliminary study and involve a small sample size. He called for carefully designed research with more participants to confirm or disprove the results.
Source: American College of Sports Medicine
Created July 10, 2010