Chronic Stretching During 2 Weeks of Immobilization Decreases Loss of Girth, Peak Torque, and Dorsiflexion Range of Motion

in Journal of Sport Rehabilitation
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Context: Chronic plantarflexor (PF) stretching during ankle immobilization helps preserve calf girth, plantarflexion peak torque, and ankle dorsiflexion (DF) motion. Immobilization can lead to decreases in muscle peak torque, muscle size, and joint range of motion (ROM). Recurrent static stretching during a period of immobilization may reduce the extent of these losses. Objective: To investigate the effects of chronic static stretching on PF peak torque, calf girth, and DF ROM after 2 weeks of ankle immobilization. Design: Randomized controlled clinical trial. Setting: Athletic training facility. Participants: A total of 36 healthy college-aged (19.81 [2.48]) females. Interventions: Subjects were randomly assigned to one of 3 groups: control group, immobilized group (IM), and immobilized plus stretching (IM+S) group. Each group participated in a familiarization period, a pretest, and, 2 weeks later, a posttest. The IM group and IM+S group wore the Aircast Foam Pneumatic Walker for 2 weeks on the left leg. During this time, the IM+S group participated in a stretching program, which consisted of two 10-minute stretching procedures each day for the 14 days. Main Outcome Measures: One-way analysis of variance was used to determine differences in the change of ankle girth, PF peak torque, and DF ROM between groups with an α level of <.05. Results: A significant difference was noted between groups in girth (F2,31 = 5.64, P = .01), DF ROM (F2,31 = 26.13, P < .001), and PF peak torque (F2,31 = 7.74, P = .002). Post hoc testing also showed a significance difference between change in calf girth of the control group compared with the IM group (P = .01) and a significant difference in change of peak torque in the IM+S group and the IM group (P = .001). Also, a significant difference was shown in DF ROM between the control group and IM+S group (P = .01), the control group and the IM group (P < .001), and the IM+S group and the IM group (P < .001). Conclusion: Chronic static stretching during 2 weeks of immobilization may decrease the loss of calf girth, ankle PF peak torque, and ankle DF ROM.

Wilson is with the Department of Health and Human Performance, Nebraska Wesleyan University, Lincoln, NE, USA. Christensen and Gange are with the Department of Health, Nutrition, and Exercise Sciences, North Dakota State University, Fargo, ND, USA. Todden is with the Department of Behavioral and Health Sciences, Baker University, Baldwin City, KS, USA. Hatterman-Valenti is with the Department of Plant Sciences, Fargo, ND, USA. Albrecht is with the Department of Health and Physical Education, Minnesota State University Moorhead, Moorhead, MN, USA.

Wilson (Swilson2@nebrwesleyan.edu) is corresponding author.
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