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Viscoelasticity of the muscle-tendon unit is returned more rapidly than range of motion after stretching

PainSci » bibliography » Mizuno et al 2011
Tags: stretch, exercise, self-treatment, treatment, muscle

One page on PainSci cites Mizuno 2011: Quite a Stretch

PainSci notes on Mizuno 2011:

Participants stretched their calf muscle; at intervals following the stretch, the stiffness of the muscle and the range of motion of the ankle were tested. Although the stiffness of the muscle improved considerably at first, it decreased quickly; however, the range of motion of the ankle significantly increased and was retained for up to 90 minutes. That is, range of motion was retained even after a brief reduction in stiffness subsided, strongly suggesting that ROM is not limited by the viscoelasticity of the tissue.

This study, although small, is consistent with other evidence and the general trend that the impact of stretch is sensory and neurological, not mechanical — i.e. a mild warm-up, basically.

original abstract Abstracts here may not perfectly match originals, for a variety of technical and practical reasons. Some abstacts are truncated for my purposes here, if they are particularly long-winded and unhelpful. I occasionally add clarifying notes. And I make some minor corrections.

The purpose of this study was to clarify the time course of the viscoelasticity of gastrocnemius medialis muscle and tendon after stretching. In 11 male participants, displacement of the myotendinous junction on the gastrocnemius medialis muscle was measured ultrasonographically during the passive dorsiflexion test, in which the ankle was passively dorsiflexed at a speed of 1°/s to the end of the range of motion (ROM). Passive torque, representing resistance to stretch, was also measured using an isokinetic dynamometer. On five different days, passive dorsiflexion tests were performed before and 0, 15, 30, 60 or 90 min after stretching, which consisted of dorsiflexion to end ROM and holding that position for 1 min, five times. As a result, end ROM was significantly increased at 0, 15 and 30 min (P<0.05 each) after stretching as compared with each previous value. Passive torque at end ROM was also significantly increased after stretching. Although the stiffness of the muscle-tendon unit was significantly decreased immediately after stretching (P<0.05), this shift recovered within 15 min. These results showed that the retention time of the effect of stretching on viscoelasticity of the muscle-tendon unit was shorter than the retention time of the effect of stretching on end ROM.

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