Original paper| Volume 10, ISSUE 6, P403-410, December 2007

Warm-up or stretch as preparation for sprint performance?


      Warm-up and stretching are widely used as techniques in preparation for intense physical activity, yet there is little information available to compare their effectiveness in relation to athletic performance. Fourteen elite Under-19 year old rugby league footballers undertook each of four preparation protocols (no preparation, stretching only, warm-up only, warm-up and stretching) in four successive testing sessions. Protocols were randomly allocated to players in a counterbalanced design so that each type of preparation occurred equally on each day of testing. During each session, athletes performed three solo sprint trials at maximum speed. Sprints were of 40-m distance and were electronically timed with wind speed and direction recorded. Preparation involving warm-up resulted in significantly faster sprint times compared to preparations having no warm-up, with a diminishing effect over the three trials. On the first trial, warm-up resulted in a mean advantage of 0.97 m over 40 m. Stretching resulted in a mean disadvantage of 0.18 m on the first trial, and no significant effect overall despite significant wind assistance. Warm-up was effective at improving immediate sprint performance, whereas an equivalent duration of lower limb stretching had no effect.


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