Increasing Muscle Extensibility: A matter of increasing length or modifying sensation?

(Weppler & Magnusson, 2010)

Aims: Understand literature regarding stretching effects.

Methods: Author’s review

Results: “Muscle’s extensibility” concept is conflicting, discrepancies in the use of term “length or extensibility”, and measures of those parameters. Mechanical theories seem not supported by literature. The most probable theory is currently an increase in sensation / tolerance by the person through the stretching. All studies are short term 3 to 8 weeks; no studies above. One study may contradict findings but uses a high dose regimen: 20 min stretching program for one muscle group in one limb, 5 days a week over 6 weeks, may shift torque/angle curve to the right with effects not completely reversed after 30 days. Still question about the relevance of the stretching, the impact of “short / tight” muscles on function, what is optimal extensibility? etc …

Limitations: Author’s point of view, low level of evidence, not standardized review.

In Practice: Insight on what are we trying to achieve when stretching? Why, how etc. We can improve person’s sensation at least in short term, one session brings immediate results, 3 to 8 weeks too. Maybe not helpful to increase muscle length.

Weppler, C. H., & Magnusson, S. P. (2010). Increasing Muscle Extensibility: A Matter of Increasing Length or Modifying Sensation? Physical Therapy, 90(3), 438–449.

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