Any way to improve performance is a good one! Researchers at Indiana State University wanted to determine how using static stretching (stretch and hold) and motor imagery (visualisation) together would effect aerobic performance in cyclists.
It is suggested that static stretching negatively effects power and force production. An example of static stretching is a side stretch for the back, or a sit and reach for the hamstrings, where the stretch lasts 20 to 30 seconds. Motor imagery is a technique used by many athletes to visualise simple or complex physical activities without actually physically doing them. It is believed that this positively effects performance.
There are no studies to date which have compared the effects of static stretching and motor imagery in trained cyclists.
13 trained cyclists made up of 9 men and 4 women, averaging 21 years of age and 73 kg were examined for average height, (1.76m) and percent body fat (11%) and for VO2max on a cycle ergometer (42ml/kg/min).
The participants performed a total of 3 sessions of 30 minutes each. One was just to determine baseline, with quiet rest preceding the exercise test. The static stretching consisted of 3 x 30seconds stretches on the hamstrings, periformis, hip flexors, and quads. Finally, the imagery was based on the cycling activity, and was led by a trained technician in motor imagery.
The results showed no co-relation between any of the factors and performance, relative power, or peak power RPM. This study was not in agreement with other studies on the same topic, suggesting that in bouts of exercise of less than 30 minutes, neither a single session of imagery or static stretching will have an effect on aerobic performance.
More research is needed in various types of exercise to cover all the factors not considered in this study.
Kingsley, JD, Zakrajsek, RA, Nesser TW, and Gage, MJ. 2013. "the effect of motor imagery and static stretching on anaerobic performance in trained cyclists". Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 27(1) pp. 265-269.