The acute effect of commonly used preparation strategies on short term high intensity motor capabilities
AuthorsFletcher, Iain M.
SubjectsC600 Sports Science
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AbstractThe overall aim of this thesis was to investigate modalities used as components of pre event/training preparation, to try to develop an optimal preparation strategy for sports performers. It concentrates on the stretch modalities commonly used by athletes as part of a warm-up designed to prepare them for subsequent performance. Past literature suggests that static stretching as part of a warm-up leads to a decrease in performance when compared to an active warm-up or a warm-up including dynamic stretches. Not surprisingly this has led to a movement away from static to dynamic stretches by many athletes. The presented publications were conducted to clarify a number of issues raised by past research studies. A lack of ecologically valid studies is apparent; the static stretch protocols used in most of the early research in this area has failed to explore what sports performers actually use as part of their training, while there was a lack of research examining the effect of dynamic stretches on performance. Of particular relevance is the lack of research looking at the mechanisms behind the changes in performance linked to warm-ups incorporating dynamic stretches. Therefore, this group of publications attempts to systematically examine the effects on performance of manipulating the stretch component of an active warm-up, while exploring the potential mechanisms linked to any changes in performance. The general findings of this series of papers provides evidence that static stretches, as part of an active warm-up, are linked to a decrease in the acute performance of a range of physical capabilities; including sprint, agility, jump and maximal force output. The mechanisms behind these performance changes are multifaceted, with decreases in core temperature and heart rate, decreases in musculotendinous unit stiffness and a decrease in muscular activity, when compared to a general active warm-up established. In contrast when a dynamic stretch replaces the static stretch component and is incorporated within a warm-up, performance is enhanced when compared to an active warm-up. The mechanisms behind this seem to be less temperature related and more closely linked to the neuro-muscular system. Greater muscular activity is linked to dynamic stretches, causing an increase in peak force and rate of force development, compared to an active warm-up protocol. This effect seems to be enhanced the faster and more specific the dynamic stretches are to the chosen performance measure, while combining static stretches with dynamic stretches as part of a preparation strategy still leads to decreases in performance compared to an active warm-up combined with dynamic stretches. In conclusion, to maximise acute maximal performance in sports specific motor skills, an active warm-up combined with specific dynamic stretches is recommended to sports performers and coaches.
PublisherUniversity of Bedfordshire
TypeThesis or dissertation
DescriptionA thesis submitted to the University of Bedfordshire, in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy by Publications
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