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Costa, PB, Graves, BS, Whitehurst, M, and Jacobs, PL. The acute effects of different durations of static stretching on dynamic balance performance. J Strength Cond Res 23(1): 141-147, 2009-The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of different durations of static stretching on dynamic balance. Women (N = 28) were tested before and after 2 stretching interventions and a control condition on 3 separate days, at least 48 hours apart. The stretching sessions involved a cycle ergometer warm-up at 70 rpm and 70 W followed by passive stretching of the lower-body muscles. Each stretching position was held at a point of mild discomfort and repeated 3 times with 15 seconds between stretches. In the 2 stretching protocols, the positions were maintained for 15 or 45 seconds. The control condition involved the same cycle ergometer warm-up, with a 26-minute rest period between pre- and posttests. Balance was assessed using the Biodex Balance System. A 2-way repeated-measures analysis of variance was used with the effects of study condition (control, 15 seconds, 45 seconds) and time (pre-, postscores). Post hoc paired t-tests were used when appropriate to determine possible statistical significance between pre- and posttest scores. Analyses indicated no significant main effects for either study condition or time. However, there was a significant condition x time interaction (p < 0.05). Post hoc analyses indicated that the 15-second condition produced a significant improvement in the balance scores (p < 0.01), with no significant effects with the control condition or the 45-second treatment. The results of this study reveal that a stretching protocol of 45-second hold durations does not adversely affect balance when using the current stabilometry testing procedure. Furthermore, a stretching intervention with 15-second hold durations may improve balance performance by decreasing postural instability. Strength and conditioning professionals concerned with reported performance limitations associated with static stretching should consider applying shorter-duration stretching protocols when aiming to improve balance performance.

(C) 2009 National Strength and Conditioning Association