Acute passive stretching alters the mechanical properties of human plantar flexors and the optimal angle for maximal voluntary contraction

  • Weir D
  • Tingley J
  • Elder G
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The purpose of this study was to investigate whether acute passive stretching (APS) reduced maximal isometric voluntary contraction (MVC) of the plantar flexors (PF) and if so, by what mechanisms. The PF in 15 female volunteers were stretched for 10 min (5 x 120 s) by a torque motor to within 2 degrees of maximum dorsiflexion (D) range of motion (ROM). MVC with twitch interpolation, maximal Hoffmann reflex (H(max)) and compound action potentials (M(max)) were recorded at 20 degrees D. Stretch reflexes (SR) were mechanically induced at 200 degrees s(-1) between 0 degrees and 10 degrees ( )D and SR torque and EMG amplitude were determined. All tests were assessed pre- (pre) and post-APS (post-test(1)). MVC, SR, and M(max) were again assessed after additional stretch was applied [mean 26 (1) degrees D; post-test(2)] to test if the optimal angle had been altered. EMG was recorded from soleus (SOL), medial gastrocnemius (MG) and tibialis anterior (TA) using bipolar surface electrodes. APS resulted in a 27% decrease in mean peak passive torque (P

Author-supplied keywords

  • Mechanical properties
  • Strength
  • Stretch reflex
  • Stretching

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  • Derek E. Weir

  • Jill Tingley

  • G. C B Elder

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