Kay, A. D. and Blazevich, A. J. (2008) Reductions in active plantarflexor moment are significantly correlated with static stretch duration. European Journal of Sports Science.8(1), pp. 41-46. 1746-1391.
We investigated the effects of static stretch duration on peak isometric plantarflexor moment and passive ankle moment in seven healthy volunteers. After the passive ankle plantarflexor moment was recorded on an isokinetic dynamometer, the peak isometric ankle moment was measured with simultaneous electromyographic monitoring of the medial gastrocnemius. The participants subsequently performed a single 5-s stretch, a single 15-s stretch, four 5-s stretches, four 15-s stretches or no stretch (control) before being re-tested. All participants randomly completed each condition with a 24-h rest between tests. The main finding of the study was a significant correlation between reductions in peak moment and stretch duration (r=0.68; P<0.05), which became significantly different from the control group after four 15-s stretches (16.7%, s=5.3; P<0.05). There was a similar decrease in passive moment (20.9%, s=1.3; P<0.05) after each stretch condition, but this was not accompanied by a change in hysteresis. The electromyographic activity recorded during maximal plantarflexion did not change significantly after stretching. Our results are the first to show a duration-dependent effect of stretch on force (moment) production of the plantarflexors. Further research is required to elucidate the mechanisms responsible, as alterations in the stiffness properties of the muscle-tendon complex or muscle recruitment cannot completely explain the changes.