Passive energy return after repeated stretches of the hamstring muscle-tendon unit

Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2000 Jun;32(6):1160-4. doi: 10.1097/00005768-200006000-00020.


It has been shown that five repetitive static stretches of human hamstring muscle, each lasting 90 s and separated by 30 s, altered the passive properties on a short-term basis. However, a total of 7.5 min (5 x 90 s) of stretching for a single muscle group may be an unrealistic stretching program.

Purpose: The present investigation examined whether three repeated 45-s static stretches had a measurable effect on the passive properties of the hamstring muscle-tendon unit, in vivo.

Methods: Resistance to stretch was defined as the passive moment (Nm) offered by the hamstring muscle group during passive knee extension using a KinCom dynamometer as previously described (Kinetic Communicator, Chattecx Corp., Chattanooga, TN). The static stretch exercise was administered to the left lower extremity of all subjects and consisted of a dynamic phase of passive knee extension to a predetermined final joint angle followed by a 45-s static phase. The procedure was repeated for a total of three 45-s static stretches with 30-s rest period between stretches.

Results: There was a significant decline in resistance over the 45-s the static phase in stretch 1 (20 +/- 3%) and stretch 3 (18 +/- 3%), P < 0.001. Further, the absolute or relative decline in resistance over time stretch 1 and 3 were equivalent. The mean resistance in stretch 1 and 3, expressed as the log(e) of time, yielded an equal and highly linear relationship (r2 = 0.96 +/- 0.01); the slope and intercept did not differ. In the dynamic phase of the stretch, the energy of stretch 1 and 3 were similar.

Conclusions: These data suggest that the static stretching protocol used in the present study had no short-term effect on the viscoelastic properties of human hamstring muscle group.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Humans
  • Leg / physiology*
  • Male
  • Muscle Contraction
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology*
  • Pliability
  • Range of Motion, Articular
  • Tendons / physiology*