The immediate effect of triceps surae myofascial trigger point therapy on restricted active ankle joint dorsiflexion in recreational runners: a crossover randomised controlled trial

J Bodyw Mov Ther. 2013 Oct;17(4):453-61. doi: 10.1016/j.jbmt.2013.02.001. Epub 2013 Apr 21.


Objectives: To investigate the immediate effect on restricted active ankle joint dorsiflexion range of motion (ROM), after a single intervention of myofascial trigger point (MTrP) therapy on latent triceps surae MTrPs in recreational runners.

Design: A crossover randomised controlled trial.

Participants: Twenty-two recreational runners (11 men and 11 women; mean age 24.57; ±8.7 years) with a restricted active ankle joint dorsiflexion and presence of latent MTrPs.

Intervention: Participants were screened for a restriction in active ankle dorsiflexion in either knee flexion (soleus) or knee extension (gastrocnemius) and the presence of latent MTrPs. Participants were randomly allocated a week apart to both the intervention (combined pressure release and 10 s passive stretch) and the control condition.

Results: A clinically meaningful (large effect size) and statistically significant increase in ankle ROM in the intervention compared to the control group was achieved, for the soleus (p = 0.004) and the gastrocnemius (p = 0.026).

Conclusion: Apart from the statistical significance (p < 0.05), these results are clinically relevant due to the immediate increase in ankle dorsiflexion. These results must be viewed in caution due to the carry-over effect in the RCT crossover design and the combined MTrP therapy approach.

Keywords: Goniometry; Latent trigger points; Myofascial pain syndrome; Myofascial trigger points; Range of motion.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Ankle Joint / physiopathology*
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Knee / physiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiopathology*
  • Physical Therapy Modalities*
  • Range of Motion, Articular
  • Running*
  • Trigger Points / physiopathology*
  • Young Adult