New Study Finds Ankle Flexibility Gains During an 18-Day Intensive Stretching Regimen Are Maintained With Normal Activity for Three Weeks

Use of Pulsed, Shortwave Diathermy Did Not Influence Outcome

DALLAS, January 30 – It’s common knowledge that if you wish to increase your range of motion, you need to stretch. One muscle group that should always have adequate flexibility is the calf, according to health care professionals and anyone who is physically active. This encouraged athletic trainer Jody B. Brucker, PhD, LAT, ATC, based at Indiana State University in Terre Haute, along with other key researchers, to test the long-term retention of an intensive stretching regimen. Their new study, “An 18-Day Stretching Regimen, With or Without Pulsed, Shortwave Diathermy, and Ankle Dorsiflexion After 3 Weeks,” examined the retention of flexibility gains that 23 healthy, college-aged male and female volunteers experienced in Provo, Utah. The results are published in the winter 2005 issue of The Journal of Athletic Training, a quarterly, scientific publication from the National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA). “Our objective was two-fold,” said Brucker. “One, to determine if flexibility gains could be maintained 21 days after an intensive 18-day stretching regimen, and two, if the gains could be better maintained if our participants received pulsed, short-wave diathermy, which provides deep heating of muscles, especially the calf muscles, before and during the stretch.” The study concluded that the ankle flexibility gains the participants enjoyed were retained for at least three weeks after their intensive exercise program ceased. “However, the combination of the pulsed shortwave diathermy with the stretching did not influence the flexibility gains any more than the stretching alone,” said Brucker. The volunteers (15 females and 8 males) were divided into two groups – one that performed stretching every day and one that received diathermy before and during the daily stretching. These healthy, active volunteers did not engage in any other flexibility or strength training that would affect ankle range of motion and were instructed not to change their daily routines during the study. The young men and women reported to the Therapeutic Modality Research Laboratory at Brigham Young University during the spring of 2000 at the same time each day. The low-load (33 percent of body weight), prolonged (throughout several days), long-duration (10-minute) stretching regimen they undertook was intended to create larger changes in range of motion than other stretching regimens. All flexibility measurements were taken with an inclinometer, which measured ankle angular change before and after stretching each day of the study. The data, all collected by the same independent certified athletic trainer, were summarized by measurement timing (pretreatment, posttreatment), treatment and day. Following the 18-day stretching regimen and seven day retention study, the 23 subjects returned 14 days later for a three-week retention measure. “It’s important to stick with an ankle stretching and flexibility regimen to ensure greatest range of motion and best results from your workout or fitness activity. This study shows that if you stop your routine and plan to restart it within a three week period, your range of motion will be minimally affected. Further research is needed to determine chronic flexibility retention beyond this time frame,” concluded Brucker. About the NATA: Certified athletic trainers are unique health care providers who specialize in the prevention, assessment, treatment and rehabilitation of injuries and illnesses. The National Athletic Trainers' Association represents and supports the 30,000 members of the athletic training profession through education and research. NATA, 2952 Stemmons Freeway, Ste. 200, Dallas, TX 75247, 214.637.6282; 214.637.2206 (fax). Ankle flexibility gains maintained

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