Surface electromyographic assessment of the effect of static stretching of the gastrocnemius on vertical jump performance

J Strength Cond Res. 2005 Aug;19(3):684-8. doi: 10.1519/R-15904.1.


The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of static stretching of the gastrocnemius muscle on maximal vertical jump performance using electromyographic activity (EMG) of the gastrocnemius musculature to record muscle activation during vertical jump performance. Fourteen healthy adults (8 men and 6 women) aged 18-34 years, who were familiar with the vertical jumping task and had no lower extremity injuries or any bone or joint disorders within the past year, served as participants for this study. After a brief warm-up, participants performed the following sequence: (a) three baseline maximal vertical jump trials, (b) 15 minutes of quiet sitting and three 30-second bilateral static stretches of the gastrocnemius muscles, and (c) 3 maximal vertical jump trials. Jump height data were collected using the Kistler force plate, while muscle activity was recorded during the jumping and stretching trials using a Noraxon telemetry EMG unit. Vertical jump height data as well as EMG values were averaged for the 3 trials and analyzed using paired t-tests for pre- and poststretching (alpha = 0.05). Vertical jump height was 5.6% lower when poststretch heights were compared with prestretch heights (t = -4.930, p < 0.005). Gastrocnemius EMG was 17.9% greater when the EMG during poststretch jumps was compared with prestretch jumps (t = 2.805, p < 0.02). The results from this study imply that, despite increased gastrocnemius muscle activity, static stretching of the gastrocnemius muscles had a negative effect on maximal jumping performance. The practical importance concerns coaches and athletes, who may want to consider the potential adverse effects of performing static stretching of the gastrocnemius muscles only before a jumping event, as jump height may be negatively affected. Future research is required to identify the mechanisms that affect vertical jump performance.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Electromyography / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Movement / physiology*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology*
  • Pliability