Neurophysiological mechanisms underpinning stretch-induced force loss

Document Type

Journal Article


Springer International Publishing

Place of Publication

New Zealand


Centre for Exercise and Sports Science Research / School of Medical and Health Sciences


Originally published as: Trajano, G. S., Nosaka, K., & Blazevich, A. J. (2017). Neurophysiological mechanisms underpinning stretch-induced force loss. Sports Medicine, 47, 1531-1541. Original article available here.


It is well known that prolonged passive muscle stretch reduces maximal muscle force production. There is a growing body of evidence suggesting that adaptations occurring within the nervous system play a major role in this stretch-induced force reduction. This article reviews the existing literature, and some new evidence, regarding acute neurophysiological changes in response to passive muscle stretching. We discuss the possible contribution of supra-spinal and spinal structures to the force reduction after passive muscle stretch. In summary, based on the recent evidence reviewed we propose a new hypothesis that a disfacilitation occurring at the motoneuronal level after passive muscle stretch is a major factor affecting the neural efferent drive to the muscle and, subsequently, its ability to produce maximal force.