Written By Dave
There seems to be some confusion about where static stretching fits into a volleyball program. Before training? After training? Does it prevent injuries? Just exactly what is the deal with static stretching?
Studies have shown that a warm up based around static stretching can impede vertical jump performance and power outputs. In some cases this has scared people off static stretching completely, and there has been an overreaction. In other cases the original message has still not quite gotten through. Hopefully this will clarify the role of static stretching in a volleyball program.
Static Stretching in the Warm Up
A previous post, Static Stretching in the Warm Up, explained that the relaxation of muscles and the dulling of the nervous system can decrease power output and jump performance. To fire up the nervous system and prepare the body, an active warm up is a better option.
However there still could be a place for static stretching in the warm up. It is unclear how long the effects of static stretching last on jump performance. Some studies indicate that the negative impact on vertical jump has worn off after 15 minutes. Other studies suggest the effect could be as long as an hour.
Static stretching may be so ingrained as part of preparing for a game that many athletes feel they cannot play without doing it. Static stretching can be ok as part of game preparation if performed at least an hour before playing. This may mean doing individual static stretching before the team starts its active warm up for the game or training.
Static Stretching After Training or Game
After training or a game static stretching is great to promote muscle relaxation, and restore muscles to their normal resting lengths. The stretching done after training is not done to improve flexiblility, it is more for restoring the muscle to resting length, promoting more optimal performance in the next session, relaxation and recovery.
Whilst dynamic mobility and an active warm up are best for preventing injuries in the short term, poor flexibility can be a factor in overuse injuries. For long term changes in flexibility static stretching certainly has a place.
Ideally players will do specific flexibility sessions, however it is not a perfect world and players often don’t have the time for extra sessions. The trend now is to work on flexibility at the beginning of a session, and then follow it up with a dynamic warm up to prepare for the training session. It is thought that this is the time when the most long term improvements to flexibility occur.
Having adequate flexibility is important in achieving optimal performance in volleyball. Volleyball requires a reasonable range of motion to achieve the various positions that you get into in a game.
Adequate flexibility allows you to accelerate your limbs through a full range of motion which can enhance power. If you are limited and cannot rotate the hips and shoulders through a full range of motion you won’t generate maximum power in a spike, for example.
Adequate flexibility enhances movement efficiency as there is less resistance to movement. For example, when trying to extend the hips to jump, tight hip flexors require more energy to overcome and can impact jump height and general ease of movement.
Many stretching techniques can be valuable when trying to improve flexibility. Dynamic stretching, static stretching and proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF) stretching can all be beneficial. I would recommend a variety of these techniques are employed when training for flexibility, and static stretching definitely has a role to play here.
Static stretching can also be used as a recovery method. Check out more detail on recovery for volleyball.
- For warm up purposes dynamic warm up is the best option.
- Static stretching is good post training or game.
- Adequate flexibility is required for injury prevention and optimal performance. Specific flexibility sessions should involve a variety of stretching techniques including static stretching. This could be done before training as long as it is followed by a dynamic warm up to get the body going.
Hopefully this clarifies some issues with static stretching and its role within a volleyball training program. Implement some of these strategies into your program, and let me know how you go.