Run Faster, Jump Higher

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The debate about stretching rages endlessly, but every once in a while a study surfaces that provides solid insight rather than conjecture. Such is the case with one appearing in the August 2010 issue of the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, which found that before vigorous activity, dynamic stretching pretty much rules. Researchers had 27 male soccer players perform three different kinds of routines before sprinting, jumping and agility drills — an active warm-up, an active warm-up with dynamic stretching and an active warm-up with static stretching. The result? The dynamic stretchers and the ones who didn’t stretch at all ran faster, jumped higher and demonstrated better agility than the static stretchers, with the dynamic group excelling the most. Researchers believe higher heart rates may be at least partially responsible. The take-home? Work some dynamic stretches — such as high knees, butt kicks and step slides — into your pre-game regimen, and you’re much more likely to go all Landon Donovan (or the sports star of your choice) on the competition.