I do not like controversy. I roll my eyes when conversation turns to politics, I avoid religious debate, and I never want to become entangled in the Favre "Packer divorce and Vikings affair" saga...it makes my stomach do flip-flops. Which is why it is difficult for me to address the fitness controversy of stretching. Actually however, thanks to great research we know that static stretching prior to an athletic event does not reduce injury risk nor does it improve the muscle's ability to perform with more power. Research indicates static stretching decreases overall muscle strength, force production, and decreases the coordination of explosive movements. Dynamic stretching on the other hand is well supported by research and implemented by many of the best strength coaches. Dynamic stretches, or stretching muscles while moving, increases power, flexibility, and range of motion. Dynamic stretching consists of functional based exercises which use sport specific movements to prepare the body for movement. The movements are controlled movements that gently carry you to the limits of your range of motion. These movements are not ballistic...no bouncy or "jerky" movements. Dynamic stretches and warm-ups often resemble the activity of the sport. To warm-up the body prior to an event calls for movement and motion to elevate body tissue temperature---not a static stretch. There is an informative November 2008 article from the New York Times highlighting the training regimen of Mark Merklein, former tennis player and now a USTA National coach. This video compliments the written article which I will try to attach below.
I am still learning to create live links but you can use the old-fashioned, prehistoric method of cutting and pasting this link into your browser to learn examples of dynamic stretching. Thanks for reading!