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European Journal of Applied Physiology

, Volume 119, Issue 11–12, pp 2673–2684 | Cite as

Passive muscle stretching impairs rapid force production and neuromuscular function in human plantar flexors

  • Gabriel S. TrajanoEmail author
  • Laurent B. Seitz
  • Kazunori Nosaka
  • Anthony J. Blazevich
Original Article

Abstract

Purpose

We examined the effect of muscle stretching on the ability to produce rapid torque and the mechanisms underpinning the changes.

Methods

Eighteen men performed three conditions: (1) continuous stretch (1 set of 5 min), (2) intermittent stretch (5 sets of 1 min with 15-s inter-stretch interval), and (3) control. Isometric plantar flexor rate of torque development was measured during explosive maximal voluntary contractions (MVC) in the intervals 0–100 ms (RTDV100) and 0–200 ms (RTDV200), and in electrically evoked 0.5-s tetanic contractions (20 Hz, 20 Hz preceded by a doublet and 80 Hz). The rate of EMG rise, electromechanical delay during MVC (EMDV) and during a single twitch contraction (EMDtwitch) were assessed.

Results

RTDV200 was decreased (P < 0.05) immediately after continuous (− 15%) and intermittent stretch (− 30%) with no differences between protocols. The rate of torque development during tetanic stimulations was reduced (P < 0.05) immediately after continuous (− 8%) and intermittent stretch (− 10%), when averaged across stimulation frequencies. Lateral gastrocnemius rate of EMG rise was reduced after intermittent stretch (− 27%), and changes in triceps surae rate of EMG rise were correlated with changes in RTDV200 after both continuous (r = 0.64) and intermittent stretch (r = 0.65). EMDV increased immediately (31%) and 15 min (17%) after intermittent stretch and was correlated with changes in RTDV200 (r = − 0.56). EMDtwitch increased immediately after continuous (4%), and immediately (5.4%), 15 min (6.3%), and 30 min after (6.4%) intermittent stretch (P < 0.05).

Conclusions

Reductions in the rate of torque development immediately after stretching were associated with both neural and mechanical mechanisms.

Keywords

Rate of force development Explosive force Flexibility Force transmission 

Abbreviations

ANOVA

Analysis of variance

CI

Confidence interval

EMD

Electromechanical delay

EMDtwitch

Electromechanical delay during the electrically evoked twitch

EMDV

Electromechanical delay during voluntary contraction

EMG

Electromyogram

LG

Lateral gastrocnemius

Mmax

Maximal compound action potential amplitude

MVC

Maximal voluntary contraction

PICs

Persistent inward currents

RER

Rate of electromyogram rise

RFD

Rate of force development

RTD

Rate of torque development

RTDI

Involuntary rate of torque development

RTDV

Voluntary rate of torque development

SOL

Soleus

VFT

Variable-frequency train of stimulation

Notes

Author contributions

GST and AJB conceived and designed the study. GST and LS conducted the experiments. GST analyzed the data, and drafted the first version of the manuscript. GST, LB, KN, and AJB critically revised the manuscript. All authors read and approved the manuscript.

Funding

This research received no specific grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

No conflicts of interest, financial or otherwise, are declared by the author(s).

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Exercise and Nutrition SciencesQueensland University of TechnologyKelvin GroveAustralia
  2. 2.Institute of Health and Biomedical InnovationQueensland University of TechnologyKelvin GroveAustralia
  3. 3.Centre for Exercise and Sports Science Research, School of Medical and Health SciencesEdith Cowan UniversityJoondalupAustralia

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