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Brazilian Journal of Medical and Biological Research
On-line version ISSN 1414-431X
MARQUES, A.P.; VASCONCELOS, A.A.P.; CABRAL, C.M.N. and SACCO, I.C.N.. Effect of frequency of static stretching on flexibility, hamstring tightness and electromyographic activity. Braz J Med Biol Res [online]. 2009, vol.42, n.10, pp. 949-953. ISSN 1414-431X. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S0100-879X2009001000012.
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° 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° 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.
Keywords : Electromyography; Flexibility; Muscle stretching exercises; Range of motion.