Stretching Combined with Repetitive Small Length Changes of the Plantar Flexors Enhances Their Passive Extensibility while Not Compromising Strength

Naoki Ikeda, Takayuki Inami, Yasuo Kawakami

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Static stretching increases flexibility but can decrease muscle strength; therefore, a method that would avoid the latter has been longed for. In this study, a novel stretching modality was developed that provides repetitive small length changes to the plantar flexor muscles undergoing passive static stretching (minute oscillation stretching). We investigated the effects of minute oscillation stretching on muscle strength and flexibility and its continuance. Isometric plantar flexion strength and maximal ankle joint dorsiflexion angle (dorsiflexion range of motion) were measured in 10 healthy young men (22 ± 2 years) before (pre) and immediately after (post) 3 types of stretching: static stretching, minute oscillation stretching at 15 Hz, and no intervention (control). The dorsiflexion range of motion was also measured at 15, 30, and 60 min post-stretching. Elongation of the medial gastrocnemius and Achilles tendon was determined by ultrasonography. Plantar flexion strength significantly decreased by 4.3 ± 3.5% in static stretching but not in minute oscillation stretching. The dorsiflexion range of motion significantly increased both in static stretching (7.2 ± 8.1%) and minute oscillation stretching (11.2 ± 14.6%), which was accompanied by a significantly larger muscle elongation but not tendon elongation. Elevated dorsiflexion range of motion was maintained until 30 min after minute oscillation stretching, while levels returned to baseline (pre-intervention) 15 min after static stretching. All variables remained unchanged in the control condition. In conclusion, minute oscillation stretching improves extensibility of the muscle belly without decreasing strength. Furthermore, the augmented flexibility to a similar extent to static stretching is retained for 30 min in minute oscillation stretching and within 15 min in static stretching.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)58-64
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of sports science & medicine
Volume18
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Mar 1

Keywords

  • acute effect
  • flexibility
  • joint range of motion
  • muscle and tendon elongation
  • Oscillation
  • ultrasonography

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation

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