Acute bouts of upper and lower body static and dynamic stretching increase non-local joint range of motion

Eur J Appl Physiol. 2016 Jan;116(1):241-9. doi: 10.1007/s00421-015-3270-1. Epub 2015 Sep 26.


Purpose: There are conflicts in the literature concerning the crossover or non-local effects of stretching. The objective of this study was to evaluate whether static (SS) and dynamic (DS) stretching of the shoulders would affect hip flexor range of motion (ROM) and performance and reciprocally whether SS and DS of the lower body would affect shoulder extension ROM and performance.

Methods: A randomized crossover study design examined the acute effects of upper and lower body SS and DS on lower and upper body performance measures, respectively. Experimental sessions included upper and lower body control tests, upper body (shoulder horizontal abduction) SS and lower body (hip abduction) SS, upper body (shoulder horizontal abduction and adduction) DS and lower body DS (hip abduction and adduction). Passive static and dynamic ROM (hip flexion, shoulder extension), leg flexor and elbow flexor maximal voluntary contraction isometric force, fatigue endurance and electromyography were measured.

Results: There were significant shoulder ROM increases following lower body SS (P < 0.010, ∆% = 8.2%) and DS (P < 0.019, ∆% = 9%). There was a significant hip flexor ROM (P < 0.016, ∆% = 5.2%) increase following upper body SS. There were no significant main effects or interactions for dynamic ROM or muscle force and activation variables.

Conclusion: The lack of stretch-induced force and fatigue changes suggests that rather than a mechanical or neural drive mechanism, an enhanced stretch tolerance was likely the significant factor in the improved ROM.

Keywords: Crossover fatigue; Electromyography; Flexibility; Non-local muscle fatigue; Range of motion; Strength.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Electromyography
  • Female
  • Hip Joint / physiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Muscle Contraction / physiology*
  • Muscle Stretching Exercises*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology*
  • Range of Motion, Articular / physiology*
  • Shoulder / physiology*
  • Young Adult