Chronic Stretching and Running Economy

Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2001 Oct;11(5):260-5. doi: 10.1034/j.1600-0838.2001.110502.x.


Research demonstrates an inverse relationship between the range of motion of selected joint movements (flexibility) and running economy. Since stretching exercises have been shown to increase joint range of motion, stretching exercises may be contraindicated for endurance running performance. Hence, this study investigated the influence of a 10-week program of stretching exercises on the oxygen costs of a 10 min sub-maximal (approx. 70% peak VO(2)) treadmill run. Thirty-two (16 female, 16 male) physically active, treadmill accommodated, college students participated in the study. All participants maintained their current activity level, with half the participants (8 female, 8 male) adding a 40 min, 3 days per week session of thigh and calf muscle stretching exercises. After 10 weeks, the stretching group (STR) exhibited a significant (P<0.05) increase (3.1+/-2.2 cm) in the sit-and-reach, while the non-stretching group (CON) experienced no significant (P>0.05) change (0.0+/-0.4 cm). However, neither the STR nor the CON exhibited a significant (P>0.05) change in the O(2) cost for the submaximal run. It is concluded, therefore, that a chronic stretching program does not necessarily negatively influence running economy.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Oxygen / blood*
  • Oxygen Consumption* / physiology
  • Physical Endurance / physiology
  • Range of Motion, Articular* / physiology
  • Running / physiology*


  • Oxygen