Gathering Hints for Myofascial Force Transmission Under In Vivo Conditions: Are Remote Exercise Effects Age Dependent?

in Journal of Sport Rehabilitation
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Context: Recent research has underpinned the occurrence of nonlocal exercise effects. For instance, self-myofascial release (SMR) of the plantar fascia increases hamstring extensibility. A possible mechanism consists in a mechanical force transmission across myofascial chains. However, as the degree of structural continuity in these chains decreases with age, the magnitude of the above described remote effects might also be reduced throughout a lifespan. Objective: To examine the age dependency of nonlocal exercise effects following plantar fascia SMR. Design: Regression experimental study. Setting: General population. Participants: 168 healthy participants (Mage = 45 [21] y, 85 males). Intervention: One 120 s bout of plantar foot SMR, performed in standing position. Main Outcomes Measure: Hamstring extensibility was assessed using sit and reach testing. Relative pre–post differences were classified as no improvement, clinically nonrelevant improvement, or clinically relevant improvement according to previously published data. The age dependency of the effects was calculated by means of multinomial stepwise logistic regression. If the latter revealed other factors than age to affect treatment effectivity, their effect was eliminated using partial correlation. Results: SMR increased hamstring extensibility by 10.1% (pre: 24.9 [9.7] cm, post: 27.4 [9.3] cm, P < .001). About 99 participants (58.9%) attained a clinically relevant change. Multinomial logistic regression demonstrated no influence of sex, amount of physical activity, height, body mass index, and time of day, but a significant impact of baseline flexibility and age (Nagelkerke’s r2 = .32, P < .001). Post hoc partial correlation analysis demonstrated that age, corrected for baseline flexibility, had a small to moderate association with treatment effectivity (r = .29, P < .001). Conclusions: Plantar foot SMR increases hamstring extensibility, which is explained by age to a small degree. Additional research is warranted to delineate the substrate of remote exercise effects. Besides mechanical force transmission, cortical adaptations might also represent the driving factor.

Jan Wilke and Kristin Kalo contributed equally to this paper. The authors are with the Department of Sports Medicine, Goethe University Frankfurt am Main, Frankfurt am Main, Germany.

Wilke (wilke@sport.uni-frankfurt.de) is corresponding author.
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