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Neural Aspects of Muscle Stretching

Guissard, Nathalie; Duchateau, Jacques

Exercise and Sport Sciences Reviews: October 2006 - Volume 34 - Issue 4 - p 154-158
doi: 10.1249/01.jes.0000240023.30373.eb

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:

Accepted for publication: April 26, 2006.

Associate Editor: Roger M. Enoka, Ph.D.

©2006 The American College of Sports Medicine