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Effect of Ankle Positioning During Hamstring Stretches for Improving Straight Leg Hip Flexion Motion

Laudner, Kevin G. PhD; Benjamin, Peter J. MS, CSCS; Selkow, Noelle M. PhD

Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine: March 2016 - Volume 26 - Issue 2 - p 167–171
doi: 10.1097/JSM.0000000000000211
Original Research

Objective: To compare the effects of stretching the hamstrings with the ankle in either a plantar-flexed (PF) or dorsiflexed (DF) position for improving straight leg hip flexion range of motion (ROM) over a 4-week period.

Design: Randomized, single-blinded, pretest, posttest design.

Setting: Athletic training facility.

Participants: Each limb of 34 asymptomatic individuals (15 males, 19 females) was randomly assigned to one of the 3 groups. Twenty-four limbs received hamstring stretches with the ankle in DF, 24 limbs received hamstring stretches with the ankle in PF, and 20 limbs received no stretch (control).

Independent Variables: Ankle position (PF, DF) during hamstring stretching.

Main Outcome Measures: We measured pretest and posttest passive straight leg hip flexion ROM with the test ankle in a neutral position. For the intervention groups, the test limb was passively stretched with the ankle held in end range DF or PF for their respective group. Each stretch was held for 30 seconds for a total of 3 applications. Two treatment sessions were completed per week for a total of 4 weeks. The control limbs received no stretching during the 4-week period. We conducted 1-way analyses of covariance to determine significant changes in ROM between groups (P < 0.05).

Results: There was no significant difference between treatment groups (P = 0.90), but a significant difference was found for both the PF (P = 0.04) and DF (P = 0.01) groups when compared with the control group.

Conclusions: Our findings indicate that both stretching the hamstrings in either PF or DF improve straight leg hip ROM compared with a control group.

Clinical Relevance: The results of this study should be considered by clinicians when determining the optimal stretching techniques aimed at increasing hamstring length.

*School of Kinesiology and Recreation, Illinois State University, Normal, Illinois; and

Hillsdale College, Hillsdale, Michigan.

Corresponding Author: Kevin G. Laudner, PhD, ATC, Illinois State University, School of Kinesiology and Recreation, Campus Box 5120, Normal, IL 61790 (

The authors report no conflicts of interest.

This study was approved by the Illinois State University institutional review board before all data collection. This protocol was given the IRB number: 2012-0234.

Received February 24, 2014

Accepted January 25, 2015

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