Akron, OH (PRWEB) May 31, 2012
Researchers at Memorial University of Newfoundland in St. John’s, Canada, recently published a study(1) in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research that compared the Thera-Band® Stretch Strap to partner-assisted stretching for hamstring flexibility. The Thera-Band® Stretch Strap, an innovative replacement to static only stretching devices, was designed to support both static and contract-relax, or “PNF” stretching (proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation) stretching without the need for a partner.
A recent review paper, Current Concepts in Muscle Stretching for Exercise and Rehabilitation, presented the advantages and disadvantages of different stretching techniques and a summation that static stretching may decrease immediate muscle performance, while contract-relax stretching may be more beneficial for immediate gains in range of motion with less detriment to muscle performance. PNF stretching involves a muscle contraction prior to initiation of the stretch, and it’s thought that contracting the target muscle or its antagonist prior to stretching may increase muscle length through neurologic-mediated mechanisms. While effective, PNF techniques often require a partner to provide resistance to the muscle contraction prior to the stretch.
Thirteen healthy adults participated in the Memorial University of Newfoundland study and each performed five different hamstring stretching techniques on separate days in random order. Hip range of motion (ROM), muscle reaction time, and movement velocity were measured before and immediately after each stretching condition.
The researchers found that all stretching techniques significantly increased hip ROM, but there was no significant difference between the techniques. Interestingly, both the Stretch Strap and partner-assisted techniques reduced movement velocity, while maintaining the same reaction times regardless of the type of stretch. They concluded that the Thera-Band Stretch Strap is as effective as partner-assisted stretching at increasing ROM, but stated that “competitive athletes should use these techniques to improve flexibility in a separate stretching routine, and not immediately before training and competition.”
Based on these results, the Thera-Band Stretch Strap fulfilled its intent stated by the authors “to make PNF stretching techniques a more viable option to improve range of motion and overall flexibility for a single individual. The elasticity of the Stretch Strap provides resistance for muscle contractions potentially replacing the need for a partner.”
Learn more about the study by listening to a podcast interview with study co-author Dr. David Behm.
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1.Maddigan ME, Peach AA, Behm DG. A comparison of assisted and unassisted proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation techniques and static stretching. J Strength Cond Res. 2012 May;26(5):1238-44.