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European Journal of Applied Physiology

, Volume 119, Issue 8, pp 1691–1700 | Cite as

The effects of 6 weeks of constant-angle muscle stretching training on flexibility and muscle function in men with limited hamstrings’ flexibility

  • Clarissa Müller BruscoEmail author
  • Anthony J. Blazevich
  • Ronei S. Pinto
Original Article

Abstract

Purpose

The aim of the present study was to evaluate the effects of 6 weeks of a constant-angle hamstring muscle flexibility training on muscle–tendon stiffness and the range of motion (ROM) in young men with limited hamstring ROM.

Methods

13 participants performed unilateral stretching training (EL), while the contralateral limb acted as control (CL). ROM, relative and peak passive torque, passive stiffness, dynamic knee flexion strength, and active optimum joint angle were assessed before and after the last training session. In addition, participants were tested during the first and last training sessions for first stretch sensation during the stretching procedure only in the EL.

Results

Straight-leg raise and isokinetic knee ROM tests (both p < 0.0001; from 59.4 ± 8.1 to 70.3 ± 9.8, from 28.3 ± 7.6 to 18.5 ± 5.2, respectively) and peak passive torque (p = 0.001; from 53.1 ± 11.7 to 64.9 ± 12.3) increased only in EL and no changes in relative passive torque, passive stiffness, dynamic knee flexion strength, and active optimum joint angle (p > 0.05) were observed. At the point of first stretch sensation, significant increases in passive torque (p = 0.004) and angle (p < 0.001) were found from pre- to post-training.

Conclusion

The flexibility training induced significant increases in ROM alongside increases in peak passive torque (stretch tolerance) and the ROM at which stretch was first perceived. However, this occurred without changes in muscle–tendon mechanical properties or transfer to the untrained limb (CL). These results suggest that limb-specific ROM increases were underpinned by neural adaptations.

Keywords

Knee flexors Passive torque Passive muscle stiffness Range of motion 

Abbreviations

ANOVA

Analysis of variance

CL

Control condition

EMG

Electromyography

EL

Experimental condition

PSLR

Passive straight-leg raise

ROM

Range of motion

RMS

Root mean square

Notes

Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior (CAPES) -Brazil and Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq) Brazil for financial support and all volunteers for their participation in this project.

Author contributions

CMB: conceived and designed the research, conducted experiments, analyzed data, and wrote the manuscript. AJB: analyzed data and wrote the manuscript. RSP: conceived and designed the research, analyzed data, and wrote the manuscript. All authors read and approved the manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Exercise Research Laboratory (LAPEX), School of Physical Education, Physiotherapy and DanceUniversidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS)Porto AlegreBrazil
  2. 2.Centre for Exercise and Sports Science Research, School of Exercise and Health SciencesEdith Cowan UniversityJoondalupAustralia

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