Changes in force and stiffness after static stretching of eccentrically-damaged hamstrings
Faculty of Health, Engineering and Science
School of Exercise and Health Sciences
Purpose: This study compared responses to static stretching between eccentrically damaged and non-damaged muscles.Methods: Twelve young men performed 60 maximum knee flexor eccentric contractions of one leg, and received a 300-s continuous passive static stretching at tolerable intensity without pain to both knee flexors at 2 and 4 days after the eccentric exercise. Range of motion (ROM) and passive stiffness during knee extension, passive torque at onset of pain (PT), maximum voluntary isometric (MVC-ISO) and isokinetic concentric contraction torque (MVC-CON), and visual analogue scale (VAS) for muscle soreness were measured before, immediately after, 60 min, 2 and 4 days after exercise as well as before, immediately after, 20 and 60 min after the stretching. Changes in these variables after eccentric exercise and stretching were compared between limbs.Results: The eccentric exercise decreased MVC-ISO, MVC-CON, ROM and PT, and increased passive stiffness and VAS (p < 0.05), suggesting that muscle damage was induced to the knee flexors. ROM and PT increased after stretching for both limbs; however, the magnitude of the increase was greater (p < 0.05) for the damaged than non-damaged limb. Passive stiffness decreased for both limbs similarly (4–7 %) at immediately after stretching (p < 0.05). Significant decreases in MVC-ISO torque (7–11 %) after stretching were observed only for the non-damaged limb (p < 0.05), but MVC-CON torque did not change after stretching for both limbs. VAS decreased for the exercised limb after stretching (p < 0.05).Conclusions: These results suggest that the static stretching at tolerable intensity without pain produced greater positive effects on damaged than non-damaged muscles.