Active stretching improves flexibility, joint torque, and functional mobility in older women

Am J Phys Med Rehabil. 2009 Oct;88(10):815-22. doi: 10.1097/PHM.0b013e3181b72149.


Objective: To investigate the effect of an active stretching program on the knee flexors with regards to flexibility, torque, and functional mobility of older women. The hypothesis of this study was that a program of active knee-flexor stretching increases flexibility and muscle torque and improves functional mobility.

Design: Twelve active older women aged 68.3 ± 6.2 yrs participated in this study, which lasted 12 wks. This study was divided into three phases (A1-B-A2), each lasting 4 wks. Phases A1 and A2 were control phases (without intervention), and phase B (stretch) consisted of seven repetitions of active knee-flexor stretching (1 min each, 30-sec rest, twice a week). Flexibility, functionality, and isokinetic torque (knee flexors and extensors) were assessed by measuring the knee-extension range of motion, the "Timed Up & Go" test, and by a dynamometry test at 60°/sec.

Results: Stretching increased the flexibility of the knee flexors (41.5%; P = 0.0001), knee-flexor torque (11.4%), and extensor torque (10.1%) (P ≤ 0.01) but decreased Timed Up & Go test performance (14.3%; P = 0.0001).

Conclusions: The results of this study showed that an active stretching program was effective in increasing the flexibility of knee flexors, extensor and flexor torque, and functional mobility in older women.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Knee Joint / physiology
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle Stretching Exercises*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology
  • Range of Motion, Articular* / physiology
  • Torque