Non-local Acute Passive Stretching Effects on Range of Motion in Healthy Adults: A Systematic Review with Meta-analysis



Stretching a muscle not only increases the extensibility or range of motion (ROM) of the stretched muscle or joint but there is growing evidence of increased ROM of contralateral and other non-local muscles and joints.


The objective of this meta-analysis was to quantify crossover or non-local changes in passive ROM following an acute bout of unilateral stretching and to examine potential dose–response relations.


Eleven studies involving 14 independent measures met the inclusion criteria. The meta-analysis included moderating variables such as sex, trained state, stretching intensity and duration.


The analysis revealed that unilateral passive static stretching induced moderate magnitude (standard mean difference within studies: SMD: 0.86) increases in passive ROM with non-local, non-stretched joints. Moderating variables such as sex, trained state, stretching intensity, and duration did not moderate the results. Although stretching duration did not present statistically significant differences, greater than 240-s of stretching (SMD: 1.24) exhibited large magnitude increases in non-local ROM compared to moderate magnitude improvements with shorter (< 120-s: SMD: 0.72) durations of stretching.


Passive static stretching of one muscle group can induce moderate magnitude, global increases in ROM. Stretching durations greater than 240 s may have larger effects compared with shorter stretching durations.

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Corresponding authors

Correspondence to David G. Behm or Jason Moran.

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No sources of funding were used to assist in the preparation of this article.

Conflict of interest

David G. Behm, Shahab Alizadeh, Saman Hadjizadeh Anvar, Ben Drury, Urs Granacher and Jason Moran declare that they have no conflicts of interest relevant to the content of this review.

Authorship contributions

DGB, SA, SHA conducted the literature search and collected and collated the data. DGB wrote the first draft of the manuscript. JM analyzed and interpreted the data. BD and UG provided input into the analysis and revised the original manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Data availability statement

All pertinent data are provided in the listed tables (PEDro scale analysis, individual and mean study characteristics and moderator analyses) and figures (PRISMA flow chart and funnel plots).

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Behm, D.G., Alizadeh, S., Anvar, S.H. et al. Non-local Acute Passive Stretching Effects on Range of Motion in Healthy Adults: A Systematic Review with Meta-analysis. Sports Med (2021).

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