Neural mechanisms contribute significantly to the gains that occur in the range of motion about a joint with stretching exercises. In the acute condition, lengthening of a muscle-tendon unit decreases spinal reflex excitability, which reduces passive tension and increases joint range of motion. Similarly, participation in a stretch-training program decreases tonic reflex activity and increases flexibility.
Neural mechanisms contribute to the benefits achieved with acute muscle stretching and long-term stretch training.
Laboratory of Applied Biology and Research Unit in Neurophysiology, Université Libre de Bruxelles, Brussels, Belgium
Address for correspondence: Dr. Nathalie Guissard, Laboratory of Applied Biology, Université Libre de Bruxelles, 28 Avenue P. Héger, CP 168, 1000 Brussels, Belgium (E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org).
Accepted for publication: April 26, 2006.
Associate Editor: Roger M. Enoka, Ph.D.