We are lucky to live in an age of rapidly evolving technology. From science and medicine to industry, we're finding better and more efficient ways to do just about everything. Endurance sports are no exception. As exercise science researchers invest more time and energy into figuring out how we can be faster and stronger, training techniques become more effective.
There's much chatter about the ideal warm-up, in particular, what kind of stretching a runner should do before a workout. For ages the typical routine involved standing and sitting passively and yanking on various limbs to lengthen stiff muscles. Today's research, however, suggests that approach isn't just ineffective; it can actually have a negative impact on your running performance.
Take a review published this year in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports that looked at how static stretching affected strength, power and explosive muscular performance. Upon examining 104 different studies involving related data points, the researchers concluded that traditional static stretching should be avoided prior to workouts.
Another recent study out of Austin State University in Texas looked at the issue more deeply. These researchers assigned participants to two different warm-ups; one group did an active dynamic routine that included range of motion and strength exercises, while the other did both the active dynamic warm-up and passive static stretching. Results showed a significant decrease in lower-body stability in the second group, leading the researchers to recommend an active dynamic warm-up before exercise sans static stretching.