Using Long-Duration Static Stretch Training to Counteract Strength and Flexibility Deficits in Moderately Trained Participants

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Many sports injuries result in surgery and prolonged periods of immobilization, which may lead to significant atrophy accompanied by loss of maximal strength and range of motion and, therefore, a weak-leg/strong-leg ratio (as an imbalance index ∆) lower than 1. Consequently, there are common rehabilitation programs that aim to enhance maximal strength, muscle thickness and flexibility; however, the literature demonstrates existing strength imbalances after weeks of rehabilitation. Since no study has previously been conducted to investigate the effects of long-duration static stretch training to treat muscular imbalances, the present research aims to determine the possibility of counteracting imbalances in maximal strength and range of motion. Thirty-nine athletic participants with significant calf muscle imbalances in maximal strength and range of motion were divided into an intervention group (one-hour daily plantar flexors static stretching of the weaker leg for six weeks) and a control group to evaluate the effects on maximal strength and range of motion with extended and bent knee joint. Results show significant increases in maximal strength (d = 0.84–1.61, p < 0.001–0.005) and range of motion (d = 0.92–1.49, p < 0.001–0.002) following six weeks of static stretching. Group * time effects (p < 0.001–0.004, η² = 0.22–0.55) revealed ∆ changes in the intervention group from 0.87 to 1.03 for maximal strength and from 0.92 to 1.11 in range of motion. The results provide evidence for the use of six weeks of daily, one hour stretching to counteract muscular imbalances. Related research in clinical settings after surgery is suggested.

Original languageEnglish
Article number13254
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number20
Publication statusPublished - 14.10.2022

Bibliographical note

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© 2022 by the authors.

    Research areas

  • flexibility, long-lasting stretching, maximal strength, maximal voluntary contraction, muscular imbalance, rehabilitation
  • Physical education and sports