Stretching Techniques to Improve Flexibility in Special Olympics Athletes and Their Coaches

in Journal of Sport Rehabilitation
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Objective/Context:

To examine the effects of static and proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF) stretching in Special Olympics athletes and their coaches on sit-and-reach performance.

Design/Participants:

Repeated-measures ANOVA with Scheffé post hoc analyses on 2 groups: Special Olympics athletes (n = 18, mean age = 15.7) and their coaches without mental retardation (n = 44, mean age = 22.2).

Intervention/Outcome Measures:

Stretching performance was measured in centimeters using a sit-and-reach flexibility box, examining 2 series of 3 stretches. For both groups, the first set of 3 stretches was performed in the following order: baseline, static, PNF. Three to 4 weeks later, the order of the stretches was reversed: baseline, PNF, static.

Results:

PNF stretching improved performance regardless of stretching order after baseline and static measures. Static stretching improved performance only from baseline.

Conclusions:

Individuals of various ages and cognitive abilities can apparently perform and benefit from PNF stretching.

The authors are with the Dept of Exercise and Sport Sciences at the University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611.