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Braz J Med Biol Res. 2009 Oct;42(10):949-53.

Effect of frequency of static stretching on flexibility, hamstring tightness and electromyographic activity.

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  • 1Departamento de Fisioterapia, Fonoaudiologia e Terapia Ocupacional, Faculdade de Medicina, Universidade de São Paulo, São Paulo, Brasil.


We compared the effect of the number of weekly repetitions of a static stretching program on the flexibility, hamstring tightness and electromyographic activity of the hamstring and of the triceps surae muscles. Thirty-one healthy subjects with hamstring tightness, defined as the inability to perform total knee extension, and shortened triceps surae, defined by a tibiotarsal angle wider than 90 degrees during trunk flexion, were divided into three groups: G1 performed the stretching exercises once a week; G2, three times a week, and G3, five times a week. The parameters were determined before and after the stretching program. Flexibility improved in all groups after intervention, from 7.65 +/- 10.38 to 3.67 +/- 12.08 in G1, from 10.73 +/- 12.07 to 0.77 +/- 10.45 in G2, and from 14.20 +/- 10.75 to 6.85 +/- 12.19 cm in G3 (P < 0.05 for all comparisons). The increase in flexibility was higher in G2 than in G1 (P = 0.018), while G2 and G3 showed no significant difference (G1: 4 +/- 2.17, G2: 10 +/- 5.27; G3: 7.5 +/- 4.77 cm). Hamstring tightness improved in all groups, from 37.90 +/- 6.44 to 29 +/- 11.65 in G1, from 39.82 +/- 9.63 to 21.91 +/- 8.40 in G2, and from 37.20 +/- 6.63 to 26.10 +/- 5.72 degrees in G3 (P < 0.05 for all comparisons). During stretching, a statistically significant difference was observed in electromyographic activity of biceps femoris muscle between G1 and G3 (P = 0.048) and G2 and G3 (P = 0.0009). No significant differences were found in electromyographic activity during maximal isometric contraction. Stretching exercises performed three times a week were sufficient to improve flexibility and range of motion compared to subjects exercising once a week, with results similar to those of subjects who exercised five times a week.

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