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Effect of Stretch Frequency and Sex on the Rate of Gain and Rate of Loss in Muscle Flexibility During a Hamstring-Stretching Program: A Randomized Single-Blind Longitudinal Study

Cipriani, Daniel J.1; Terry, Megan E.2; Haines, Michelle A.3; Tabibnia, Amir P.4; Lyssanova, Olga5

Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research:
doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e31823b862a
Original Research

Abstract: Cipriani, DJ, Terry, ME, Haines, MA, Tabibnia, AP, and Lyssanova, O. Effect of stretch frequency and sex on the rate of gain and rate of loss in muscle flexibility during a hamstring-stretching program: A randomized single-blind longitudinal study. J Strength Cond Res 26(8): 2119–2129, 2012—This study evaluated the effects of 4 different weekly stretching protocols on the rate of gain and decline in hamstring flexibility over an 8-week period, across sex. Using a randomized single-blind design, 53 healthy subjects aged 18–46 years were assigned to 1 of 4 stretching protocols or a control group. The stretching protocols consisted of either daily or 3 times per week stretching and performed once or twice each day. These protocols differed in terms of frequency and total weekly stretching time. All the subjects stretched their hamstring muscles for 4 weeks and were measured weekly for their hip range of motion (ROM). Stretching ceased the final 4 weeks as the weekly measurements continued. The results revealed no significant differences in the rate of gain or the rate of loss between the different stretching protocols (2-way analysis of variance, F = 2.60, p > 0.05). All the stretching groups gained in hip ROM from pre to week 4 (F = 269.24, p < 0.001). After cessation, the rate of loss was similar for all the 4 stretching groups (F = 102.86, p < 0.001); all the groups retained significant gains at the end of the study (p < 0.001). The control group did not change over time. Those who stretched at least 6 times per week gained more than those who stretched 3 times per week (24 and 16.8%, respectively, F = 5.20, p < 0.05). Subject sex did not influence ROM changes (p > 0.05). Stretching appears to be equally effective, whether performed daily or 3 times per week, provided individuals stretch at least 2 times each day. Moreover, although women are more flexible than men are, there was no sex difference in terms of stretching response.

Author Information

1Department of Physical Therapy, Chapman University, Orange, California

2School of Medicine, Stanford University, Palo Alto, Califorina

3Division of Biokinesiology and Physical Therapy, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California

4College of Osteopathic Medicine, Western University of Health Sciences, Pomona, California

5School of Exercise and Nutritional Sciences, San Diego State University, San Diego, California

Address correspondence to Daniel J. Cipriani,

© 2012 National Strength and Conditioning Association