Sport stretching: effect on passive muscle stiffness of short hamstrings

Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 1996 Jul;77(7):688-92. doi: 10.1016/s0003-9993(96)90009-x.


Objective: To evaluate the effects of one 10-minute stretch on muscle stiffness in subjects with short hamstrings.

Design: Randomized control trial.

Setting: Laboratory for human movement sciences in the department of rehabilitation of a university hospital.

Subjects: Sixteen students from the Department of Human Movement Sciences participated with informed consent in the experiment. Subjects were limited to men and women without a history of neurological and orthopedic disorders. To select subjects with short hamstrings, the finger-ground distance had to be greater than 0cm (unable to touch the floor when bending forward) and the manual leg lifting was not to exceed 80 degrees. One group of 10 subjects performed static stretching exercises during 10 minutes interspersed with relaxing, whereas the untreated group of 6 subjects was used as a control.

Main outcome measures: The instrumental straight-leg-raising set-up enables the measurement of the force needed to lift the leg, range of motion (ROM), pelvic-femoral angle, and the electromyogram of the hamstrings. These variables provide information about the stiffness, elongation, and state of activity of the hamstring muscles. RESULTS. One 10-minute sport stretch resulted in a significant increase in passive muscle moment, ROM, and elongation of the hamstrings. There was no significant change in the course of the passive muscle stiffness curve with respect to the prestretch stiffness curve.

Conclusions: One session of static stretching does not influence the course of the passive muscle stiffness curve. The increased ROM, i.e., the extensibility of the hamstrings, results from an increase in the stretch tolerance.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Athletic Injuries / etiology
  • Athletic Injuries / prevention & control*
  • Elasticity
  • Exercise Therapy / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Muscle Rigidity / complications
  • Muscle Rigidity / rehabilitation*
  • Range of Motion, Articular*
  • Thigh / physiopathology*
  • Treatment Outcome