Effect of self-administered stretching on NIRS-measured oxygenation dynamics

Clin Physiol Funct Imaging. 2016 Mar;36(2):126-33. doi: 10.1111/cpf.12205. Epub 2014 Oct 17.


This study determined human skeletal muscle oxygenation dynamics during and after a single bout of self-administered stretching (SAS) of the plantar flexors. Nine healthy recreationally fit men (n = 7; age = 25·7 years) and women (n = 2; age = 23·5 years) performed two protocols: (i) one bout of SAS for 4 min and (ii) one bout of moderate intensity cycling for 4 min. We used near infrared spectroscopy to measure changes in muscle deoxygenated haemoglobin-myoglobin ([HHb]) and blood volume ([Hbtot ]) of gastrocnemius medialis muscle before, during and after stretching. The SAS caused an increase (P<0·05) in [HHb] during stretching between 60 and 240 s relative to baseline, but not at 30 s. No significant difference was found for [Hbtot ] at any time interval during SAS. Furthermore, the increase in local blood flow (suggested by [Hbtot ] changes) was found to be significantly increased relative to baseline at 1, 5 and 10 min after SAS, thus providing novel evidence for a poststretch hyperaemia. No significant interaction for [HHb] was found between stretching and cycling conditions, suggesting that the metabolic disturbance during stretching closely resembles moderate intensity exercise. These findings suggest that a single self-administered stretch for 60 s can produce a substantial microcirculatory event and that blood flow may be enhanced for up to 10 min after stretching.

Keywords: muscle blood volume; muscle oxygen consumption; muscle stretch; near infrared spectroscopy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Bicycling
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Female
  • Hemoglobins / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Microcirculation
  • Muscle Contraction
  • Muscle Stretching Exercises*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / blood supply
  • Muscle, Skeletal / metabolism*
  • Oxygen / blood*
  • Oxygen Consumption*
  • Oxyhemoglobins / metabolism*
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Random Allocation
  • Regional Blood Flow
  • Spectroscopy, Near-Infrared*
  • Time Factors
  • Young Adult


  • Biomarkers
  • Hemoglobins
  • Oxyhemoglobins
  • deoxyhemoglobin
  • Oxygen