PainSci commentary on Puentedura 2011: ?This page is one of thousands in the PainScience.com bibliography. It is not a general article: it is focused on a single scientific paper, and it may provide only just enough context for the summary to make sense. Links to other papers and more general information are provided wherever possible.
It’s common for stretching enthusiasts to dismiss my concern that stretching is not all that useful with the concession that, of course, static stretching is quite pointless, but fancier methods (their methods) are “obviously” clinically useful. By far the most common example of allegedly superior stretching is the broad category of “proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation,” and more specifically the hold relax method. Supposedly this approach works better than mere pulling on muscle. However, this test of the immediate effects HR-PNF versus static stretch on hamstrings was a bust: they both increased flexibility equally well (for whatever that’s worth). “No significant differences were found when comparing the effectiveness of HR-PNF and SS techniques. Both stretching methods resulted in significant immediate increases in hamstring length.”
~ Paul Ingraham
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.
PURPOSE: To compare the immediate effects of a hold-relax proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation stretching (HR-PNF) versus static stretch (SS) on hamstring flexibility in healthy, asymptomatic subjects.
SUBJECTS: Thirty subjects (13 female; mean age 25.7 ± 3.0, range 22-37) without excessive hamstring muscle flexibility were randomly assigned to one of two stretch groups: HR-PNF or SS.
METHODS: The left leg was treated as a control and did not receive any intervention. The right leg was measured for ROM pre- and post-stretch interventions, with subjects receiving randomly assigned interventions one week apart. Data were analyzed with a 3 (intervention: HR-PNF, SS, control) × 2 (time: pre and post) factorial ANOVA with repeated measures and appropriate post-hoc analyses.
RESULTS: A significant interaction was observed between intervention and time for hamstring extensibility, F(2,58) = 25.229, p < .0005. Main effect of intervention for the tested leg was not significant, p = .782 indicating that there was no difference between the two stretch conditions. However, main effect for time was significant (p < .0005), suggesting that hamstring extensibility (for both stretching conditions) after intervention was greater than before.
CONCLUSION: No significant differences were found when comparing the effectiveness of HR-PNF and SS techniques. Both stretching methods resulted in significant immediate increases in hamstring length.
This page is part of the PainScience BIBLIOGRAPHY, which contains plain language summaries of thousands of scientific papers & others sources. It’s like a highly specialized blog. A few highlights:
- Association of Lumbar MRI Findings with Current and Future Back Pain in a Population-based Cohort Study. Kasch 2022 Spine (Phila Pa 1976).
- A double-blinded randomised controlled study of the value of sequential intravenous and oral magnesium therapy in patients with chronic low back pain with a neuropathic component. Yousef 2013 Anaesthesia.
- Is Neck Posture Subgroup in Late Adolescence a Risk Factor for Persistent Neck Pain in Young Adults? A Prospective Study. Richards 2021 Phys Ther.
- Sudden amnesia resulting in pain relief: the relationship between memory and pain. Choi 2007 Pain.
- Photobiomodulation therapy is not better than placebo in patients with chronic nonspecific low back pain: a randomised placebo-controlled trial. Guimarães 2021 Pain.