2nd Edition

The Science and Physiology of Flexibility and Stretching Implications and Applications in Sport Performance and Health

By David Behm Copyright 2025
    288 Pages 127 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    288 Pages 127 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    The Science and Physiology of Flexibility and Stretching is the most up-to-date and comprehensive book to cover the underlying physiology and psychology of flexibility enhancing techniques, critically assessing why, when, and how we should stretch, as well as offering a highly illustrated, practical guide to stretching exercises.  This fully revised new edition not only updates the present information but adds new chapters on areas that have attracted substantial interest in the last 5 years such as foam rolling, vibration, global effects of stretching, alternative methods to increase flexibility (e.g., resistance training) and others.


    Richly illustrated, and including an online resource, The Science and Physiology of Flexibility and Stretching provides an important scientific inquiry into stretching as well as other flexibility enhancing techniques (e.g., foam rolling, vibration, resistance training, and others) and an invaluable reference for any strength and conditioning coach or student, personal trainer, sports coach, or exercise scientist.

    Section I: The Science and Physiology of Stretching


    1. My Personal Motivation for Stretching

    2. History of Stretching

    3. Types of Stretching and the Effects on Flexibility

                                 Stretching-Induced Changes in Range of Motion (ROM)


    Range of Motion (ROM) Norms

    Measuring Range of Motion (ROM)

    Sex Differences

    Ageing Differences

    Youth Differences

    Genetic Differences

    Limb Dominance Differences

    Circadian (Diurnal: time of day) Differences


    4. Mechanisms Underlying Acute Changes in Range of Motion (ROM)

                                 Thixotropic Effects

    Neural Mechanisms of Acute Static Stretching

    Neural Mechanisms of Acute Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF) Stretching

    Neural Mechanisms of Acute Dynamic Stretching

    Stretch Tolerance Sensory Theory

    Acute Morphological Static Stretching Mechanisms

    Skeletal Structures




    Muscle Hypertrophy

    Intracellular and Extracellular Connective Tissue



    Acute Morphological Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF) Stretching Mechanisms

    Acute Morphological Dynamic Stretching Mechanisms


    5. Stretch Training-related Range of Motion (ROM) Changes and Mechanisms

                  Plastic Neural Adaptations

                  Plastic Morphological Adaptations

                  Psychological Adaptations


    6. Global Effects of Stretching

                  Crossover or non-local muscle fatigue

                  Global Stretching Effects on Range of Motion (ROM)

                  Global Stretching Effects on Performance

                  Mechanisms Underlying Global Stretching Effects

                  Global Effects of Foam Rolling


    7. Recommendations for Stretch prescription

                  Stretching Duration

                  Stretching Intensity

                  Optimal Time of Day to Stretch

                  Stretching Frequency (Days/week)

                  Pre- versus post-workout stretching

                  Stretching for Relaxation

                  Ventilatory Effects on Stretching

                  Combining Stretching with Muscular Contractions or Massage

                  Effect of Temperature on Stretching

                  Stretching under Metastable Conditions


    8. Stretching Effects on Injury Reduction and Health

                  Physiological Rationale for Stretch-induced Injury Reduction

                  Dynamic Stretching and Activity Effects on Injury Incidence

                  Stretching Effects on Posture, Low Back Pain and Compensatory Overuse Syndromes

                  Effects of Immobilization on Flexibility

                  Stretching Effects on Dysmenorrhea

                  Stretching Effects on the Cardiovascular System


    9. Does Stretching Affect Performance?

                  Static and PNF Stretching

                  Effects of Static Stretching on the Stretch-Shortening Cycle

                  Stretching Effects on Balance

                  Effects of Flexibility Training

                  Ageing Effects

                  Effect of Stretching Intensity

                  Cost Benefit Analysis

                  Effects of Dynamic Stretching on Performance

                  Effects of Combining Static and Dynamic Stretching on Performance

                  Effects of Ballistic Stretching          on Performance

                  Full Warm-ups

                  Limitations of Acute Stretching Studies

                  Improving Performance by Limiting Muscle Soreness


    10. Effect of Stretch Training on Functional Performance

                  Static Stretching

                  Dynamic Stretch Training


    Chapter 11: Effects of Stretch Training on Muscle Strength and Hypertrophy

    Author: Konstantin Warneke

                  What humans can learn from chicken and quails

    Does stretching provide a sufficient stimulus to enhance human muscle strength and size?

                  Underlying mechanisms of stretch-mediated hypertrophy and strength increases

    Practical applications and limitations


    Section II: The Science and Physiology of Alternative Techniques for Increasing Range of Motion


    12: Effects of Resistance Training on Range of Motion (ROM)                            

    Author: Shahab Alizadeh

    Moderating Variables

    Possible Mechanisms


    13. Acute and Chronic Effects of Foam Rolling Effects on Range of Motion (ROM) 

    and Performance

                                 Author: Andreas Konrad

                  Fascial Restrictions and Myofascial Adhesions

                  Type of foam rollers

                  Acute foam rolling effects

                  Chronic foam rolling effects

                  Rolling Mechanisms

                  Other potential benefits or contradictors

                  Rolling Recommendations


    14. Local Vibration Effects on Range of Motion (ROM) and Performance

                  Effects on Range of Motion (ROM)

                  Effects on Performance



    15. Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization (IASTM)- no figure call outs

                  Acute Effects on Range of Motion (ROM)

                  Training Effects on Range of Motion (ROM)

                  Global effects of IASTM

                  IASTM Effects on Performance



    16. Flossing Effects on Range of Motion (ROM) and Performance

                  Floss Band Effects on ROM

                  Flossing Effects on Performance


                  Flossing Effects on Pain


    17. Stretching Exercise Illustrations


    David Behm is a University Research Professor at Memorial University of Newfoundland. He was a highly competitive athlete, excelling in baseball, ice hockey, and was drafted into the Canadian Football League (1979). His athletic background led him to seek out an academic career in the areas of applied neuromuscular physiology and sport/exercise science. Dr. Behm has won a number of university, national, and international awards based on his internationally recognized research contributions. At the time of publication, he has published over 20 book chapters, over 400 peer-reviewed scientific articles with over 35,000 citations. He consistently presents his research findings internationally and his work is often featured in popular fitness and health magazines and online publications.

    "In this comprehensive textbook, readers will discover a wealth of stretching techniques designed to improve flexibility, sport performance, prevent injuries, and promote overall health. Whether you are an athlete looking to enhance performance or simply aiming to increase your range of motion, Professor Behm’s textbook is a must-have addition to your fitness library."

    Prof. Urs Granacher, PhD, University of Freiburg, Germany.


    "Professor Behm shares his profound knowledge and expertise in this book. The body of available evidence is presented using an explicative and practical narrative. An essential read for all those interested in the topic."

    Prof. Rodrigo Ramirez-Campillo PhD, Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences Institute. School of Physical Therapy. Faculty of Rehabilitation Sciences. Universidad Andres Bello. Santiago, Chile.


     "It is the perfect book to tap into the wisdom of stretching as developed by researchers. By reading this book, you will gain wisdom about the past, present, and imagine the future of stretching"

    Prof. Masatoshi Nakamura PhD,Faculty of Rehabilitation Sciences, Nishi Kyushu University, Kanzaki, Saga, Japan


    "With this work, Prof. Behm provides an encyclopedia of flexibility techniques that illustrates the current scientific knowledge on stretching and related training techniques in the most comprehensive manner. The content of this book served as an important baseline for much ongoing research, including my PhD Thesis."

    Konstantin Warneke PhD, University of Graz, Graz Austria