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A-41 Free Communication/Poster - Biomechanics of Resistance Training Wednesday, May 29, 2019, 7: 30 AM - 12: 30 PM Room: CC-Hall WA2

The Influence of Menthol on Joint Range of Motion

236 Board #74 May 29 11:00 AM - 12:30 PM

Staffiere, William; Gillis, Jason; Varnell, Michelle; Gallo, Joseph; Silva, Kevin; Moriarty, Jacob

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Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: June 2019 - Volume 51 - Issue 6S - p 51
doi: 10.1249/01.mss.0000560647.07734.e6
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PURPOSE: To use the known topical analgesic menthol to explore the influence of one’s perception of muscle tension on joint range of motion (ROM).

METHODS: This study received approval from the Salem State University Institutional Review Board. In a familiarization session, 15 participants first completed weight-bearing lunge (WBLT) and active ankle dorsiflexion (AADF) tests (Pre-test) to assess ROM in the soleus-gastrocnemius complex. Participants were always instructed to stretch to a ‘maximal tolerable stretch’. They immediately then completed a 6x60s static stretching routine for the ankle plantarflexors, and again completed the WBLT and AADF tests (Post-test). These testing conditions established a control (CONTROL). On two separate occasions participants returned to complete the aforementioned pre-tests, immediately after which they had 5mL of a 4 % menthol gel (M) applied to their soleus-gastrocnemius complex on one visit, and on the other visit they had 5mL of a Placebo gel (P) spread over the same area. Participants then underwent the stretching routine and post-tests as previously described. The following measures were made during each test: ROM, thermal sensation (TS), thermal comfort (TC), electromyography (EMG), and the Hoffman reflex (HR). A two-way RM ANOVA detected differences between time (Pre vs. Post), condition (CONTROL vs. M vs. P), and any interaction, with post-hoc testing used to indicate directionality (alpha=0.05).

RESULTS: Menthol significantly improved AADF ROM by 2.67 degrees compared to P (p<0.001), coinciding with significantly cooler sensations (p<0.01) and a loss of thermal comfort (p<0.05) with menthol. Similarly, menthol improved WBLT ROM by 2.98 degrees compared to P (p<0.01), coinciding with a significant loss of thermal comfort (p<0.05) with menthol.

CONCLUSION: Menthol appears to improve active joint range of motion during stretches that are held to a maximal tolerable tension. This suggests that one’s perception of tension per se, rather than actual muscle tension, may be more important in determining maximal active joint ROM. It is not clear whether menthol achieves this by specifically reducing one’s perception of muscle tension during a maximal stretch, or whether other sensory inputs arising from menthol i.e. TS, TC, divert attention from it.

Copyright © 2019 by the American College of Sports Medicine