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Sports science research debunks stretching myth

Dr Tony Boutagy used 60 people performing six different warm up methods as part of his research
Dr Tony Boutagy used 60 people performing six different warm up methods as part of his research

A PhD graduand, who has conducted an extensive study on the effects of warming up and stretching before physical activity, will receive a PhD at Charles Darwin University’s virtual graduation ceremony this Friday.

Dr Tony Boutagy, who has been a personal trainer for 25 years, used 60 people performing six different warm up methods throughout the study. 

The aim of the study was to identify the effects of various stretching methods – either alone or in combination – on the muscle performance tasks of strength, speed, power and endurance.

Dr Boutagy said that when he began the study in 2004 there was a consensus from sports scientists that athletes should avoid stretching when warming up for an activity.

“Back then the scientific theory then was that you shouldn’t really do any stretching beforehand because the muscles would be impaired,” Dr Boutagy said. 

“I thought that was a bit crazy because we’ve doing it for decades in the fitness industry.”

He set out to discover if the various ways people warmed up had a negative impact on physical performance.

The research found that various methods of warming up exerted only a trivial effect on strength, speed and power.

“Essentially realistic durations of stretching had no effect on performance, that was the key finding,” Dr Boutagy said. 

“We tested different types of stretching side-by-side and they made no difference at all, providing they were done realistically.”  

It concluded the addition or exclusion of stretching as part of a comprehensive warm-up routine could be left to a coach or athlete’s decision and could be conducted without penalty to performance.

“What we found is it comes down to personal preference, whether you feel like you need to, depending on how your body feels,” Dr Boutagy said.  

Dr Boutagy runs educational courses for personal trainers at his Sydney-based fitness facility, specialising in the development of strength and endurance.

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