Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
ISSN: 1303 - 2968   
Ios-APP Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
Androit-APP Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
©Journal of Sports Science and Medicine (2019) 18, 58 - 64

Research article
Stretching Combined with Repetitive Small Length Changes of the Plantar Flexors Enhances Their Passive Extensibility while Not Compromising Strength
Naoki Ikeda1, , Takayuki Inami2, Yasuo Kawakami1
Author Information
1 Faculty of Sport Sciences, Waseda University, Tokorozawa, Saitama, Japan
2 Institute of Physical Education, Keio University, Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan

Naoki Ikeda
✉ PhD Faculty of Sport Sciences Waseda University, 2-579-15 Mikajima, Tokorozawa, Saitama 359-1192, Japan
Publish Date
Received: 08-10-2018
Accepted: 23-11-2018
Published (online): 11-02-2019
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Static stretching increases flexibility but can decrease muscle strength; therefore, a method that would avoid the latter has been longed for. In this study, a novel stretching modality was developed that provides repetitive small length changes to the plantar flexor muscles undergoing passive static stretching (minute oscillation stretching). We investigated the effects of minute oscillation stretching on muscle strength and flexibility and its continuance. Isometric plantar flexion strength and maximal ankle joint dorsiflexion angle (dorsiflexion range of motion) were measured in 10 healthy young men (22 ± 2 years) before (pre) and immediately after (post) 3 types of stretching: static stretching, minute oscillation stretching at 15 Hz, and no intervention (control). The dorsiflexion range of motion was also measured at 15, 30, and 60 min post-stretching. Elongation of the medial gastrocnemius and Achilles tendon was determined by ultrasonography. Plantar flexion strength significantly decreased by 4.3 ± 3.5% in static stretching but not in minute oscillation stretching. The dorsiflexion range of motion significantly increased both in static stretching (7.2 ± 8.1%) and minute oscillation stretching (11.2 ± 14.6%), which was accompanied by a significantly larger muscle elongation but not tendon elongation. Elevated dorsiflexion range of motion was maintained until 30 min after minute oscillation stretching, while levels returned to baseline (pre-intervention) 15 min after static stretching. All variables remained unchanged in the control condition. In conclusion, minute oscillation stretching improves extensibility of the muscle belly without decreasing strength. Furthermore, the augmented flexibility to a similar extent to static stretching is retained for 30 min in minute oscillation stretching and within 15 min in static stretching.

Key words: Oscillation, joint range of motion, muscle and tendon elongation, flexibility, ultrasonography, acute effect

           Key Points
  • Minute oscillation stretching (MOS) improved extensibility of the muscle belly with the increased flexibility being retained longer than in case of static stretching, and it did not reduce strength.
  • MOS can accommodate the positive effects of static stretching and dynamic stretching.
  • The present study only included young healthy male subjects; it remains unknown whether the findings of the current study are applicable to different populations (e.g. females and the elderly).
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