European Journal of Applied Physiology

, Volume 112, Issue 7, pp 2749–2755 | Cite as

Effects of a 4-week static stretch training program on passive stiffness of human gastrocnemius muscle-tendon unit in vivo

  • Masatoshi Nakamura
  • Tome Ikezoe
  • Yohei Takeno
  • Noriaki Ichihashi
Original Article


Static stretch is commonly used to prevent contracture and to improve joint mobility. However, it is unclear whether the components of the muscle-tendon unit are affected by a static stretch training program. This study investigated the effect of a four-week static stretch training program on the viscoelastic properties of the muscle-tendon unit and muscle. The subjects comprised 18 male participants (mean age 21.4 ± 1.7 years). The range of motion (ROM), passive torque, myotendinous junction (MTJ) displacement and, muscle fascicle length of the gastrocnemius muscle were assessed using both ultrasonography and a dynamometer while the ankle was passively dorsiflexed. After the initial test, the participants were assigned either to a group that stretched for 4 weeks (N = 9) or to a control group (N = 9). The tests were repeated after the static stretch training program. The ROM and MTJ displacement significantly increased, and the passive torque at 30° significantly decreased, in the stretching group after the study period. However, there was no significant increase in muscle fascicle length. These results suggest that a 4-week static stretch training program changes the flexibility of the overall MTU without causing concomitant changes in muscle fascicle length.


Static stretch Long-term effects Ultrasonography Muscle tendon unit Gastrocnemius 


Conflict of interest

The authors have no conflicts of interest to declare.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Masatoshi Nakamura
    • 1
    • 2
  • Tome Ikezoe
    • 1
  • Yohei Takeno
    • 1
  • Noriaki Ichihashi
    • 1
  1. 1.Human Health Sciences, Graduate School of Medicine, Kyoto UniversityKyotoJapan
  2. 2.Research Fellow of the Japan Society for the Promotion of ScienceTokyoJapan

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