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The Effects of Intermittent Stretching Following a 4-Week Static Stretching Protocol: A Randomized Trial

Rancour, Jessica1; Holmes, Clayton F2; Cipriani, Daniel J3

Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research: November 2009 - Volume 23 - Issue 8 - pp 2217-2222
doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e3181b869c7
Original Research

Rancour, J, Holmes, CF, and Cipriani, DJ. The effects of intermittent stretching following a 4-week static stretching protocol: A randomized trial. J Strength Cond Res 23(8): 2217-2222, 2009-Stretching is performed in rehabilitation and sports conditioning programs. It is not known how often during a week stretching needs to be performed to maintain flexibility. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to determine the influence of intermittent stretching (i.e., 2-3 days/week) on hip range of motion (ROM) following a 4-week, daily stretching program. This study used a randomized, single-blind, test-retest design. Healthy adult subjects, age 18 to 50 years, were randomly assigned to 1 of 2 static stretching protocols: (a) standard protocol or (b) intermittent protocol. All subjects stretched their hamstrings daily for the first 4 weeks. The standard group discontinued all stretching after 4 weeks. The intermittent group continued to stretch 2 to 3 days per week for an additional 4 weeks. All subjects were measured for hip ROM weekly for the full 8 weeks. Thirty-two subjects completed the study (standard group = 14; intermittent group = 18, mean age 24.6 years). Mean hip ROM increased (p < 0.05) for both groups from before protocol (PRE) to Week 4 (standard group gain from 71.4 ± 18.5 degrees to 90.6 ± 20.5 degrees and intermittent group gain from 68.6 ± 15.7 degrees to 89.1 ± 16.8 degrees). During the final 4 weeks, mean hip ROM decreased (p < 0.05) for the standard group from 90.6 ± 20.5 degrees to 83.9 ± 20.3 degrees. Mean hip ROM for the intermittent group did not decrease during the final 4 weeks of the study (89.1 ± 16.8 degrees to 93.2 ± 14.9 degrees, p > 0.05). Intermittent stretching (i.e., 2 or 3 days/week) is sufficient to maintain ROM gains acquired from a prior static stretching program. Clinicians and trainers may educate their clients of the benefits of intermittent stretching to maintain flexibility.

1Department of Physical Therapy, The Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, Ohio; 2Department of Physical Therapy, University of Toledo, Toledo, Ohio; and 3School of Exercise and Nutritional Sciences, San Diego State University, San Diego, California

Research conducted at the University of Toledo Health Science Campus, formerly the Medical College of Ohio.

Address correspondence to Daniel J. Cipriani, cipriani@mail.sdsu.edu.

© 2009 National Strength and Conditioning Association