A new study just came out that performed a meta-analysis of pre-exercise static stretching by analyzing data gathered in 104 other studies on muscle performance. The conclusion is fairly surprising:
The pooled estimate of the acute effects of SS on strength, power, and explosive performance, expressed in standardized units as well as in percentages, were -0.10 [95% confidence interval (CI): -0.15 to -0.04], -0.04 (95% CI: -0.16 to 0.08), and -0.03 (95% CI: -0.07 to 0.01), or -5.4% (95% CI: -6.6% to -4.2%), -1.9% (95% CI: -4.0% to 0.2%), and -2.0% (95% CI: -2.8% to -1.3%). These effects were not related to subject’s age, gender, or fitness level; however, they were more pronounced in isometric vs dynamic tests, and were related to the total duration of stretch, with the smallest negative acute effects being observed with stretch duration of ≤45 s. We conclude that the usage of SS as the sole activity during warm-up routine should generally be avoided.
What they’re saying here is that static stretching as your only warm-up is going to inhibit muscle performance. However, that does not mean that dynamic stretching — faster stretches that move your muscles in a more natural way — is as bad. Dynamic stretches should probably be what you go for.
Granted, the degree of impairment on muscle performance isn’t huge, just -5.4% on strength, -1.9% on power, and -2.0% on power. But still, if dynamic stretching has less of an effect, it might be more worthwhile to use that, instead. Save your static stretching for yoga class, or maybe post-workout flexibility exercises.