The effects of intermittent stretching following a 4-week static stretching protocol: a randomized trial

J Strength Cond Res. 2009 Nov;23(8):2217-22. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e3181b869c7.


Stretching is performed in rehabilitation and sports conditioning programs. It is not known how often during a week stretching needs to be performed to maintain flexibility. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to determine the influence of intermittent stretching (i.e., 2-3 days/week) on hip range of motion (ROM) following a 4-week, daily stretching program. This study used a randomized, single-blind, test-retest design. Healthy adult subjects, age 18 to 50 years, were randomly assigned to 1 of 2 static stretching protocols: (a) standard protocol or (b) intermittent protocol. All subjects stretched their hamstrings daily for the first 4 weeks. The standard group discontinued all stretching after 4 weeks. The intermittent group continued to stretch 2 to 3 days per week for an additional 4 weeks. All subjects were measured for hip ROM weekly for the full 8 weeks. Thirty-two subjects completed the study (standard group = 14; intermittent group = 18, mean age 24.6 years). Mean hip ROM increased (p < 0.05) for both groups from before protocol (PRE) to Week 4 (standard group gain from 71.4 +/- 18.5 degrees to 90.6 +/- 20.5 degrees and intermittent group gain from 68.6 +/- 15.7 degrees to 89.1 +/- 16.8 degrees). During the final 4 weeks, mean hip ROM decreased (p < 0.05) for the standard group from 90.6 +/- 20.5 degrees to 83.9 +/- 20.3 degrees. Mean hip ROM for the intermittent group did not decrease during the final 4 weeks of the study (89.1 +/- 16.8 degrees to 93.2 +/- 14.9 degrees, p > 0.05). Intermittent stretching (i.e., 2 or 3 days/week) is sufficient to maintain ROM gains acquired from a prior static stretching program. Clinicians and trainers may educate their clients of the benefits of intermittent stretching to maintain flexibility.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Female
  • Hip Joint / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle Stretching Exercises / methods*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology
  • Pliability
  • Prospective Studies
  • Range of Motion, Articular / physiology
  • Single-Blind Method
  • Treatment Outcome