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European Journal of Applied Physiology

, Volume 99, Issue 4, pp 449–454 | Cite as

A stretching program increases the dynamic passive length and passive resistive properties of the calf muscle-tendon unit of unconditioned younger women

  • Richard L. Gajdosik
  • Jennifer D. Allred
  • Holly L. Gabbert
  • Beth A. Sonsteng
Short Communication

Abstract

This study examined the effects of a 6-week stretching program on the dynamic passive elastic properties of the calf muscle-tendon unit (MTU) of unconditioned younger women. After random assignment of 12 women (age 18–31 years) to a stretching group (SG) or to a control group (CG), six subjects in the SG and four subjects in the CG completed the study. For the initial tests, a Kin-Com®dynamometer moved the ankle from plantarflexion to maximal dorsiflexion (DF) with negligible surface EMG activity in the soleus, gastrocnemius and tibialis anterior muscles. Angular displacement, passive resistive torque, area under the curve (passive elastic energy) and stiffness variables were reduced from the passive DF torque curves. The SG then completed ten static wall stretches held 15 s each, five times a week for 6 weeks, the CG did not. The tests were repeated and the changes between the tests and retests were examined for group differences (Mann–Whitney U). The SG had significant increases in the maximal passive DF angle (7° ± 4°), maximal passive DF torque (11.2 ± 8.3 N m), full stretch range of motion (23° ± 24°), full stretch mean torque (3.4 ± 2.1 N m), and area under the full stretch curve (22.7 ± 23.5° N m) compared to the CG (P ≤ 0.019). The passive stiffness did not change significantly. The results showed that a stretching program for unconditioned calf MTUs increased the maximal DF angle and length extensibility, as well as the passive resistive properties throughout the full stretch range of motion. The adaptations within the calf MTU provide evidence that stretching enhances the dynamic passive length and passive resistive properties in unconditioned younger women.

Keywords

Calf muscle-tendon unit Dynamic passive elastic properties Stretching Women 

Notes

Aknowledgments

This study was funded by The Clinical Kinesiology Student Research Fund and by grants from The MJ Murdock Charitable Trust Foundation and The University of Montana (USA).

The experiments in this study complied with the current laws of the United States of America.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Richard L. Gajdosik
    • 1
  • Jennifer D. Allred
    • 1
  • Holly L. Gabbert
    • 1
  • Beth A. Sonsteng
    • 1
  1. 1.Clinical Kinesiology Research Laboratory, The School of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation ScienceThe University of MontanaMissoulaUSA

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