Brazilian Journal of Medical and Biological Research
On-line version ISSN 1414-431X
GALLON, D. et al. The effects of stretching on the flexibility, muscle performance and functionality of institutionalized older women. Braz J Med Biol Res [online]. 2011, vol.44, n.3, pp. 229-235. Epub Jan 26, 2011 ISSN 1414-431X. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S0100-879X2011007500012.
Stretching has been widely used to increase the range of motion. We assessed the effects of a stretching program on muscle-tendon length, flexibility, torque, and activities of daily living of institutionalized older women. Inclusion/exclusion criteria were according to Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) (>13), Barthel Index (>13) and Lysholm Scoring Scale (>84). Seventeen 67 ± 9 year-old elderly women from a nursing home were divided into 2 groups at random: the control group (CG, N = 9) participated in enjoyable cultural activities; the stretching group (SG, N = 8) performed active stretching of hamstrings, 4 bouts of 1 min each. Both groups were supervised three times per week over a period of 8 weeks. Peak torque was assessed by an isokinetic method. Both groups were evaluated by a photogrammetric method to assess muscle-tendon length of uni- and biarticular hip flexors and hamstring flexibility. All measurements were analyzed before and after 8 weeks by two-way ANOVA with the level of significance set at 5%. Hamstring flexibility increased by 30% in the SG group compared to pre-training (76.5 ± 13.0° vs 59.5 ± 9.0°, P = 0.0002) and by 9.2% compared to the CG group (76.5 ± 13.0° vs 64.0 ± 12.0°, P = 0.0018). Muscle-tendon lengths of hip biarticular flexor muscles (124 ± 6.8° vs 118.3 ± 7.6°, 5.0 ± 7.0%, P = 0.031) and eccentric knee extensor peak torque were decreased in the CG group compared to pre-test values (-49.4 ± 16.8 vs -60.5 ± 18.9 Nm, -15.7 ± 20%, P = 0.048). The stretching program was sufficient to increase hamstring flexibility and a lack of stretching can cause reduction of muscle performance.
Keywords : Homes for the aged; Muscle stretching exercises; Muscle strength; Flexibility; Activities of daily living.