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Scand J Med Sci Sports 2011 & 2011 John Wiley & Sons A/S

doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0838.2011.01329.x

Viscoelasticity of the muscletendon unit is returned more rapidly


than range of motion after stretching
T. Mizuno, M. Matsumoto, Y. Umemura
Laboratory for Exercise Physiology and Biomechanics, School of Health and Sport Sciences, Chukyo University, Toyota, Japan
Corresponding author: T. Mizuno, Laboratory for Exercise Physiology and Biomechanics, School of Health and Sport,
Sciences, Chukyo University, 101 Tokodachi kaizu-cho, Toyota 470-0393, Japan. Tel: 181-565-46-1211, Fax: 181-565-46-
1272, E-mail: j10908d@cnc.chukyo-u.ac.jp
Accepted for publication 23 March 2011

The purpose of this study was to clarify the time course of the dorsiexion to end ROM and holding that position for
viscoelasticity of gastrocnemius medialis muscle and tendon 1 min, ve times. As a result, end ROM was signicantly
after stretching. In 11 male participants, displacement of the increased at 0, 15 and 30 min (Po0.05 each) after stretching
myotendinous junction on the gastrocnemius medialis muscle as compared with each previous value. Passive torque at end
was measured ultrasonographically during the passive dorsi- ROM was also signicantly increased after stretching.
exion test, in which the ankle was passively dorsiexed at a Although the stiness of the muscletendon unit was signi-
speed of 11/s to the end of the range of motion (ROM). cantly decreased immediately after stretching (Po0.05), this
Passive torque, representing resistance to stretch, was also shift recovered within 15 min. These results showed that the
measured using an isokinetic dynamometer. On ve dierent retention time of the eect of stretching on viscoelasticity of
days, passive dorsiexion tests were performed before and 0, the muscletendon unit was shorter than the retention time of
15, 30, 60 or 90 min after stretching, which consisted of the eect of stretching on end ROM.

Stretching is commonly performed to increase joint Recently, it has been possible to measure elonga-
exibility and is considered to prevent injury in tion of muscle and tendon in vivo using ultrasono-
athletes (Bixler & Jones, 1992). Static stretching graphy (Kubo et al., 2001). Kubo et al. (2002)
without reactive movement is popularly performed determined the stiness of tendon using displacement
before exercise, and reportedly has acute eects on of the aponeurosis during ramp isometric contrac-
joint exibility (Wiktorsson-Moller et al., 1983; Ma- tion, nding an 8% decrease in tendon stiness and a
hieu et al., 2007). To clarify the reasons for any such 29% decrease in hysteresis of tendon after 5-min
eects, Magnusson et al. (1997) measured the rate of stretching. Conversely, Morse et al. (2008) deter-
change of resistance to stretch dened as the passive mined the stiness of tendon and muscle using
torque, and suggested that repetitive stretching made displacement of the myotendinous junction (MTJ)
hamstrings more extensible. Similarly, some studies during passive dorsiexion. They reported a 56%
have reported that static stretching increases joint decrease in muscle stiness after stretching, but no
range of motion (ROM) as a result of decreased signicant change in tendon stiness. Regarding this
passive torque, accompanied by decreases in the inconsistency between study results, Morse et al.
stiness of the muscletendon unit (MTU) (Wilson (2008) pointed to dierences in the methods of
et al., 1992; Halbertsma et al., 1996; Evetovich et al., determination. Kubo et al. (2002) measured tendon
2003; Witvrouw et al., 2004; Reisman et al., 2005). stiness under high torque generated by isometric
This decreased stiness of the MTU has been attrib- contractions, whereas Morse et al. (2008) measured
uted to changes in the mechanical characteristics of stiness of muscle and tendon under a relatively low
tendon and/or muscle with stretching (Kubo et al., torque. In other words, Kubo et al. (2002) focused on
2001). In addition, increased stretch tolerance has tendon during isometric contraction, whereas Morse
been considered another reason why stretching in- et al. (2008) focused on muscle and tendon during
creases joint ROM (Magnusson et al., 1998). These passive dorsiexion. In any case, these two studies
previous studies have thus reported that stretching showed that stiness of the MTU decreased after
performed before physical exercise may potentially stretching, although it was unclear whether the
enhance joint ROM. change in MTU stiness was due to alterations in

1
Mizuno et al.
the displacement of the MTJ or tendon or some 65.0  6.0 kg] who could be dorsiexed 4151 at all passive
combination of the two. dorsiexion tests for 5 test days. All participants were recrea-
The time course of the eect of stretching has been tionally active but not involved in any structured physical
training regime and had no history of recent lower limb injury.
less investigated. Radford et al. (2006) reported that the Written informed consent was obtained from all the partici-
eect of stretching on joint ROM was retained for 5 pants. The study protocols were approved by the Human
30 min after stretching, although the retention time Subjects Committee of Chukyo University Graduate School
might vary with the method of stretching according to of Health and Sport Sciences, and complied with their
their review. Magnusson et al. (1998) reported that requirements for human experimentation.
joint ROM increased for 10 min after static stretching
for 90 s, while MTU stiness remained unaltered. Ryan Experimental protocol
et al. (2008a) showed that regardless of the dierence in
A randomized, repeated-measures, cross-over design [time
the stretching time of 2, 4 and 8 min, ROM increased (pre-stretching vs post-stretching)  rest interval (0 min vs
immediately after stretching, with the eects disappear- 15 min vs 30 min vs 60 min vs 90 min)] was used to determine
ing within 10 min after the end of stretching. Ryan et al. the time course of viscoelasticity of the MTU. Before the
(2008b) also showed that the stiness of the MTU measurements, participants were instructed to rest in a sitting
decreased immediately after stretching and returned position for 15 min in our laboratory. The passive dorsiexion
test was performed both before and after stretching. During
to baseline within 10 min in the case of stretching for the passive dorsiexion test, we measured passive torque and
2 min, whereas decreased stiness of the MTU returned displacement of the MTJ at dierent joint angles and end
to baseline within 20 min after stretching for 4 or 8 min. ROM of the ankle joint. After the rst passive dorsiexion
However, these studies (Magnusson et al., 1998; test, static stretching was performed. Participants were then
Ryan et al., 2008a, b) did not always systematically instructed to rest in a sitting position before performing the
second passive dorsiexion test. We designed ve dierent rest
evaluate temporal changes in both ROM and stiness intervals of 0, 15, 30, 60 or 90 min, with testing on 5 dierent
of the MTU. In addition, Morse et al. (2008) recently days, each separated by 424 h. Participants have completed
noted that as discussed by Magnusson et al. (2000), the all experimental trials within 3 weeks.
time course of in vivo physiological adaptations
associated with static stretching remains unresolved.
Clarication of the relationship between the time Passive dorsiflexion test
course of joint range and stiness of the MTU after Participants were secured to the isokinetic machine with the
stretching is thus needed to determine the clinical knee in full extension, and the footplate xed to the right foot.
The lateral malleolus was aligned with the axis of the dynam-
signicance of static stretching. ometer (Fig. 1). In this study, all reported ankle angles were
The purpose of this study was to clarify the time assessed as the angle of the footplate, and ankle angle was
course of viscoelasticity of the MTU. We therefore dened as 01 when the footplate was perpendicular to the oor.
measured passive torque on the ankle joint while the Values were dened as positive for dorsiexion. Passive end
ankle was passively dorsiexed and determined the ROM was determined using an approach similar to the method
adopted by Morse et al. (2008). In this method, the foot of the
stiness of the MTU according to Morse et al.s participant was passively and isokinetically dorsiexed at a
(2008) method. This work was conducted using speed of 11/s from  301 to the angle at which the participant
three hypotheses. The rst was that the stiness of felt discomfort and stopped the dynamometer by activating a
the MTU would be decreased after stretching, and safety trigger. Maximal angle of the footplate was dened as the
that joint ROM would be increased. The second was end ROM. In this process, passive torque generated on the
footplate was also determined at ankle angles of 01, 51, 101, 151
that these eects would be retained for dierent and maximal dorsiexion. Throughout the passive dorsiexion
intervals after stretching. In other words, the reten- test, participants were requested to relax completely and not
tion time of the eect of stretching would be oer any voluntary resistance. Passive torque and ankle joint
shorter for eects on the stiness of the MTU than angle were converted from analog to digital at a sampling rate of
for eects on joint ROM. The third hypothesis was 1.5 kHz (LX-10, TEAC, Tokyo, Japan).
B-mode ultrasonography (LOGIQ P5, GE Healthcare UK
that the decrement in stiness of the MTU was due Ltd, Buckinghamshire, England) was used to determine the
to decreased stiness of the muscle, as a result of displacement of the MTJ for gastrocnemius medialis during the
alterations in the displacement of the MTJ. Based on passive dorsiexion test. The MTJ was visualized as a long-
the results, we attempted to clarify dierences in the itudinal ultrasonic image using a 4.5 cm, 12.0 MHz linear array
time course of viscoelasticity in the MTU and joint probe (12L probe; GE Healthcare), which was synchronized to
the passive torque and joint angle outputs. The probe was
ROM after stretching. secured to the skin using a specially made frame. Displacement
of the MTJ was measured as the value relative to a reective
marker placed between the skin and the ultrasonic probe as a
Materials and methods landmark [Fig. 2(a)]. Ultrasonic images were recorded on
videotape at 30 Hz (SR-VSI30, Victor, Kanagawa, Japan).
Participants Displacement of the MTJ was analyzed using software we
Fourteen healthy men volunteered for the study, and the nal developed. Displacement of the MTJ was manually traced by
cohort comprised 11 men [mean  standard deviation (SD) this software, which was made with Visual C# (Microsoft) and
age, 23.2  2.6 years; height, 172.7  6.8 cm; weight, DirectShow (Microsoft). In this study, the gastrocnemius muscle

2
Retention time of the eect after stretching

Muscle activity

Angle, torque

(1) Foot plate

EMG

A / D converter

Personal computer

Trigger

Video

(2) Ultrasound probe

Deformation
Ultrasound apparatus Digital timer
of muscle

Fig. 1. Schematic illustration of the experimental setup. Passive torque and end range of motion (ROM) were measured using
an isokinetic dynamometer during passive ankle dorsiexion. Participants were secured to the isokinetic machine with the knee
in full extension and the footplate (1) was xed to the right foot. The right foot of the participant was passively and
isokinetically dorsiexed at a speed of 11/s from  301 to the angle at which the participant felt discomfort and stopped the
dynamometer by activating a safety trigger. Maximal angle of the footplate was dened as the end ROM. In this process,
passive torque generated on the footplate was also determined at ankle angles of 01, 51, 101, 151 and maximal dorsiexion. At
the same time, the displacement of the myotendinous junction was measured using an ultrasonography (2).

was elongated, and the MTJ was moved distally, because the Static stretching
ankle joint was dorsiexed from  301 to end ROM. Repeated static stretching was performed using the isokinetic
Measurements of end ROM, passive torque and displace- dynamometer in the same fashion as the passive dorsiexion
ment of the MTJ were repeated three times before and after test. Static stretching was administered to the right lower leg of
stretching, and the measured values are shown as the mean of each participant. The leg was secured on an isokinetic machine
the results from the three trials. (Biodex System3, Biodex medical, Shirley, New York, USA)
with the knee in full extension. The footplate attached to the
isokinetic machine was xed securely to the right foot of each
Calculation of tendon displacement and stiffness participant and passively dorsiexed at a constant velocity of 51/
Changes in MTU length during dorsiexion of the ankle joint s from 301 of plantar exion to a position of maximal dorsi-
were estimated using a cadaveric regression model (Grieve et al., exion angle that induced a sensation in the triceps surae muscle
1978). Percentage change in MTU length (DL) was calculated as similar to a static stretch maneuver without pain and the
follows: participant stopped the dynamometer by activating the safety
trigger. This position was then held at a constant angle for
DL 22:185 0:3014190 y  0:0006190 y2 1 min. Thereafter, the footplate was returned to the position in
301 of plantar exion. This stretching procedure was repeated
where y is the ankle angle (1), dened as 01 in the anatomical ve times. Maximal dorsiexion angle was reassessed at each
position and positive under dorsiexion. The value DL was dorsiexion. Throughout stretching, participants were requested
calculated in 51 increments of dorsiexion and multiplied by the to relax completely and not oer any voluntary resistance.
length of the lower leg, as measured from the popliteal fossa to
the center of the lateral surface of bula to estimate displace-
ment of the MTU. To estimate tendon elongation, displacement
of the MTJ was subtracted from displacement of the MTU. Electromyography (EMG)
Displacements of the MTJ, tendon and MTU and passive To remove any potential contribution of gastrocnemius med-
torque were calculated every 51 from 01 to 201 and end ROM. ialis, gastrocnemius lateralis, soleus or tibialis anterior muscle
In this study, the stiness values of the MTU were calculated contraction during dorsiexion, we measured EMG activities
as the slope of the second-order polynomial passive torqueankle using bipolar surface electrodes placed on the belly of each
angle regression curve, which was xed at the four points of 01, muscle with a 25 mm interelectrode distance. EMG signals
51, 101 and 151. Stiness values of the MTU were determined at were transmitted to a digital data recorder at a sampling rate
51, 101 and 151 [Fig. 2(b)]. Similarly, stiness values of muscle and of 1.5 kHz (LX-10, TEAC). To ensure that the passive dorsi-
tendon were calculated as the slope of the second-order poly- exion test was truly passive, we monitored EMG tracings to
nomial passive torquedisplacement of MTJ regression curves. ensure that the values remained o0.05 mV above baseline
Stiness values of muscle were determined at 51, 101 and 151. during the passive stretch cycles of passive dorsiexion tests

3
Mizuno et al.
(a) Statistics
All data are reported as mean  SD. A three-way analysis of
variance (ANOVA) [time (pre-stretch vs post-stretch)  rest
interval (0 min vs 15 min vs 30 min vs 60 min vs 90 min)  an-
gle (01 vs 51 vs 101 vs 151)] was used to analyze submaximal
Gastocnemius Ultrasound Achilles tendon passive torque and submaximal displacement of the MTJ and
muscle probe tendon. A three-way ANOVA [time (pre-stretch vs post-
stretch)  rest interval (0 min vs 15 min vs 30 min vs 60 min
A
vs 90 min)  angle (51 vs 101 vs 151)] was used to analyze the
stiness values of the MTU, muscle and tendon. A two-way
ANOVA [time (pre-stretch vs post-stretch)  rest interval
10mm
Plantar flexed (0 min vs 15 min vs 30 min vs 60 min vs 90 min)] was used to
position analyze the end ROM and passive torque at end ROM. When
appropriate, follow-up analyses were performed using lower-
Reference marker order ANOVA and t-tests with Bonferroni corrections. The
level of signicance was set at Po0.05.

Results
10mm Dorsiflexed
position End ROM
A signicant two-way interaction (time  rest inter-
(b)
val) was identied. Post hoc testing revealed that
stretching increased end ROM for 0, 15 and 30 min
Second-order regression curve (Po0.05 each) after stretching. However, no signi-
cant dierences in end ROM were seen at 60 and
90 min after stretching [Fig. 3(a)].

Tangent line
Passive torque at end ROM
No signicant two-way interaction (time  rest inter-
val) and no main eect for rest interval were identi-
ed, but a signicant main eect was seen for time.
Stretching increased passive torque at end ROM
(Po0.05) [Fig. 3(b)].
Fig. 2. (a) Ultrasound images obtained for the myotendi-
nous junction (MTJ) of the medial gastrocnemius muscle
during the passive dorsiexion test. A represents the
relative displacement between the reference marker and
Submaximal passive torque
MTJ when the ankle was in the planter exed position. A signicant three-way interaction (time  rest inter-
Similarly, B represents the relative displacement between val  angle) was noted. Post hoc testing revealed
the reference marker and MTJ when the ankle was in the
dorsiexed position. Displacement of MTJ was calculated by
stretching decreased submaximal passive torque for
subtracting A from B. (b) The passive torquedorsi- 0 min after stretching at 01, 51, 101 and 151 (Po0.05
exion angle data for one subject from the passive dorsi- each). However, no signicant dierences in submax-
exion test. Stiness values of the muscletendon unit imal passive torque were seen 415 min after stretch-
(MTU) were calculated as the slope of the second-order ing at any angle (Table 1).
polynomial passive torqueankle angle regression curve,
which was xed at the four points of 01, 51, 101 and
151. Stiness values of the MTU were determined at 51,
101 and 151. Stiffness of the MTU
No signicant three-way interaction (time  rest inter-
(Gajdosik et al., 1999). This amount of EMG activity corre- val  angle) and no signicant two-way interactions
sponds to approximately 2% maximal voluntary contraction for time  angle or rest interval  angle were seen, but
(Mahieu et al., 2008) and ensures minimal activation of a signicant two-way interaction for time  rest inter-
gastrocnemius medialis, gastrocnemius lateralis, soleus or val was identied. Post hoc analyses revealed that
tibialis anterior muscles during passive dorsiexion testing stretching decreased the stiness of the MTU for
(Gajdosik et al., 2005). Previous pilot work has indicated that
the root mean square EMG values of gastrocnemius medialis 0 min after stretching (Po0.05). However, no signi-
during the passive dorsiexion test were 0.01  0.003 mV for cant dierences in the stiness of the MTU were seen
the initial 101 and 0.01  0.004 mV for the nal 51. at 15, 30, 60 or 90 min after stretching (Fig. 4).

4
Retention time of the eect after stretching

Fig. 4. Percent change in the stiness of the muscletendon


unit (MTU) as a result of stretching. Data are expressed as
mean  standard deviation. wA signicant main eect was
seen for time on the stiness of MTU (Po0.05).

Fig. 3. Stretching-induced changes in (a) end range of mo- Table 2. Displacement (mm) of myotendinous junction at 01, 51, 101 and
tion (ROM) and (b) passive torque at end ROM. Data are 151, before and after stretching
expressed as mean  standard deviation. wA signicant main
eect was seen for time on passive torque at end ROM Rest intervalv Dorsiflexion angle (deg.)
(min)
(Po0.05). *Po0.05 compared with before stretching.
5w 10ww 15www

0
Table 1. Passive torque (Nm) at 01, 51, 101 and 151 before and after Pre 2.7  0.8 5.0  1.2 7.1  1.4
stretching Post 2.7  0.4 5.2  0.8 7.9  1.3
15
Rest interval Dorsiflexion angle (deg.) Pre 2.8  0.6 5.0  1.0 6.8  1.7
(min) Post 2.6  0.7 5.1  1.4 7.0  1.6
0 5 10 15 0
Pre 2.5  0.4 4.9  1.1 6.8  1.5
0 Post 2.6  0.4 5.0  0.9 7.0  1.3
Pre 7.0  2.2 9.7  2.9 13.2  3.5 18.1  5.0 60
Post 6.3  1.9* 8.4  2.6* 11.7  3.4* 15.9  4.4* Pre 2.5  0.5 4.6  0.5 6.5  1.0
15 Post 2.4  0.7 4.6  1.2 6.5  1.6
Pre 6.9  1.9 9.6  2.9 13.5  3.9 17.7  6.0 90
Post 6.5  0.9 9.2  1.7 12.8  2.3 17.4  3.3 Pre 2.5  0.6 4.9  1.0 6.6  1.3
30 Post 2.6  0.3 4.9  0.6 6.7  0.8
Pre 7.5  3.2 10.4  4.0 14.0  4.9 18.2  5.3
Post 7.3  2.2 10.0  3.0 13.7  3.9 18.3  4.8 Values represent means  SD. A significant main effect was seen for angle.
w
60 Po0.05 compared with 01.
Pre 7.1  2.6 9.4  3.0 13.0  4.0 17.6  5.2 ww
Po0.05 compared with 01 and 51.
Post 7.0  2.0 9.6  2.7 13.5  3.3 17.6  4.3 www
Po0.05 compared with 01, 51 and 101.
90
Pre 7.0  1.8 10.0  2.5 13.5  3.2 18.0  4.1
Post 7.4  1.7 10.2  2.5 13.9  3.1 18.4  4.5 Stiffness of muscle
Values represent means  SD. No signicant three-way interaction (time  rest inter-
*Po0.05 compared with before stretching. val  angle) and no signicant two-way interactions
for time  rest interval, time  angle or rest inter-
Displacement of the MTJ val  angle were identied. In addition, no signicant
main eects for time or rest interval were seen, but a
No signicant three-way interaction (time  rest inter- signicant main eect of angle was identied.
val  angle) and no signicant two-way interactions
for time  rest interval, time  angle or rest inter-
val  angle were found. In addition, no signicant Displacement of tendon
main eects were seen for time or rest interval, but a No signicant three-way interaction (time  rest inter-
signicant main eect for angle was apparent (Table 2). val  angle) and no signicant two-way interactions for

5
Mizuno et al.
Table 3. Displacement (mm) of tendon at 01, 51, 101 and 151, before and that the eect of stretching on exibility remained for
after stretching 530 min after stretching.
Rest interval Dorsiflexion angle (deg.)
In the present study, decreased stiness of the
(min) MTU after stretching returned within 15 min. How-
5w 10ww 15www ever, the increase in passive torque at a maximally
dorsiexed position remained for 415 min after
0 stretching. The increase in end ROM immediately
Pre 1.1  0.8 2.5  1.5 3.9  1.8
Post 1.1  0.6 2.4  1.2 3.4  2.0 after stretching might therefore be attributable to
15 changes in both the mechanical properties of the
Pre 0.9  0.6 2.0  0.9 3.5  1.2 MTU and the stretch tolerance. Conversely, the
Post 1.0  0.7 2.0  1.4 3.5  1.6
increase in end ROM at 15 and 30 min after stretch-
30
Pre 1.3  0.5 2.4  1.1 3.9  1.4 ing might be attributable to changes only in stretch
Post 1.0  0.4 2.2  0.8 3.8  1.1 tolerance. Although no signicant interaction was
60 seen for passive torque at end ROM, stretching also
Pre 1.1  0.5 2.6  0.5 4.3  1.1
Post 1.3  0.7 2.8  1.1 4.2  1.5
increased passive torque without a signicant incre-
90 ment of end ROM at 60 and 90 min after stretching,
Pre 1.2  0.7 2.4  1.1 4.1  1.4 but the reason is unknown.
Post 1.1  0.4 2.3  0.7 4.2  0.9 Decreased stiness of the MTU after stretching
Values represent means  SD. A significant main effect was seen for angle.
might mainly result from reductions in the stiness
w
Po0.05 compared with 01. of the muscle, as stretching tended to decrease the
ww
Po0.05 compared with 01 and 51. stiness of muscle, but not the stiness of tendon. This
www
Po0.05 compared with 01, 51 and 101. tendency was supported by additional statistics in
which two-way ANOVA identied stiness only im-
mediately after stretching, although three-way AN-
time  rest interval, time  angle or rest interval  an- OVA did not yield any signicant results. A signicant
gle were noted. In addition, no signicant main eects main eect of time was identied, indicating that the
for time or rest interval were found, but a signicant stiness of muscle was decreased approximately 20%
main eect was identied for angle (Table 3). (from 2.5  1.3 to 1.9  1.0 Nm/mm, Po0.05) imme-
diately after stretching, whereas the stiness of tendon
Stiffness of tendon was not changed (from 3.4  1.5 to 3.2  1.0 Nm/
mm). This result was supported by the ndings of
No signicant three-way interaction (time  rest inter- Morse et al. (2008), who reported that muscle stiness
val  angle) and no signicant two-way interactions decreased 56% after stretching without any change in
for time  rest interval, time  angle or rest inter- tendon stiness. They measured the stiness of muscle
val  angle were observed. In addition, no signicant and tendon based on the movement of the MTJ during
main eects were seen for time, rest interval or angle. passive dorsiexion, as in our study (Morse et al.,
2008). However, these results do not agree with the
Discussion ndings of Kubo et al. (2002), who reported that
tendon stiness decreased 8% after static stretching.
In the present study, end ROM was increased after They evaluated the stiness of tendon from the move-
ve static stretches in which participants passively ment of the aponeurosis during ramp isometric con-
moved the ankle joint to the maximal dorsiexion traction. The disagreement between these results might
position and held this position for 1 min. This eect result from dierences in the magnitude of torque on
was maintained for 30 min after stretching. However, the tendon, as the torque generated by muscles during
reduced stiness of the MTU immediately after isometric contraction is relatively higher than torque
stretching returned within 15 min. on the MTU during passive dorsiexion. Tendon
The nding in this study that this type of stretching viscoelasticity might be changed only at greater torque
increased end ROM was consistent with the results by stretching.
reported by Morse et al. (2008). In this study, end Incremental displacement of the MTJ after stretch-
ROM immediately after stretching was increased ing might be due to morphological changes in con-
5.1  3.71 compared with baseline. Although the nective tissue beside the muscle fascicles, as
rate of increase was diminished, end ROM was stretching tends to increase the displacement of the
signicantly increased by 3.6  3.51 at 15 min after MTJ. This tendency was supported by additional
stretching and by 1.5  1.71 at 30 min after stretch- statistics in which two-way ANOVA identied dis-
ing. However, this eect of stretching was not re- placement of the MTJ only at 151 immediately after
tained at 60 min after stretching. These results were stretching, whereas three-way ANOVA yielded no
supported by Radford et al. (2006), who reported signicant results. The previous study showed that

6
Retention time of the eect after stretching
the displacement of the MTJ was in accord with ing and post-stretching) only twice on each test day,
muscle fascicle elongation during passive dorsiexion whereas previous studies performed ve tests on a
before stretching, but was not in accord after stretch- test day (Ryan et al., 2008a, b). Moreover, we veried
ing (Morse et al., 2008). Stretching increased the the eects in an additional test, in which eight
displacement of the MTJ and muscle fascicle elonga- participants performed passive dorsiexion tests be-
tion during passive dorsiexion, but the displacement fore and after a rest for 5 min without any other
of the MTJ was greater than muscle fascicle elonga- stretching. The results showed no signicant changes
tion (Morse et al., 2008). These ndings suggest that in end ROM (from 20.3  7.2 to 20.6  7.91,
additional extension of the muscle after stretching is P40.05), passive torque at end ROM (from
due, at least in part, to factors other than muscle 27.0  11.3 to 28.8  12.0 Nm, P40.05) or displace-
bers, and connective tissue might be one such factor ment of the MTJ at end ROM (from 8.0  1.4 to
(Morse et al., 2008). The present results suggest that 8.0  1.6 mm, P40.05) before and after rest. The
the eects of stretching on muscle fascicles and passive dorsiexion test was thus considered to have
connective tissue disappear within 15 min. no signicant stretching eect.
Decreased stiness of the MTU after stretching may In conclusion, the eect of static stretching by
inuence athletes independently from increased end holding the ankle joint at maximal dorsiexion on
ROM. This may be benecial to athletes in improving incremental end ROM was retained 430 min, whereas
performance or in the prevention of injury (Shellock & eects on decreased stiness of the MTU disappeared
Prentice, 1985; Bixler & Jones, 1992; Worrell et al., within 15 min. This suggests that static stretching
1994), although the present results suggest that the changes both the mechanical properties of muscle
eect was not retained for 15 min after stretching. and stretch tolerance. These ndings also suggest
Conversely, some studies have reported a reduction that these two changes show dierent time courses.
in power output after stretching (Cramer et al., 2005;
Nelson et al., 2005; McHugh & Cosgrave, 2010). If
such reductions were caused by muscle stiness, the
values would revert within 15 min after stretching, Perspectives
whereas incremental end ROM might be preserved
for 430 min after stretching. This study systematically demonstrated that the
The present study shows several methodological retention time of the eects of stretching on viscoe-
limitations. First, the displacement of the MTU was lasticity of the MTU was shorter than the retention
not measured practically and was instead calculated time of the eect of stretching on end ROM. How-
using a cadaveric regression model. In this model, the ever, as pre-exercise warming-up typically involves
change in the length of the MTU was 0.78 mm per static stretching combined with other warm-up drills,
degree. This is similar to the value of 0.83 mm per further research is clearly needed. Future studies
degree reported by Herbert et al. (2002), who carried should systematically evaluate how long the de-
out polynomial regression using data from three creased viscoelasticity of the MTU, which is related
cadavers. However, the fact that the displacement to reduced power output and injury prevention, is
of the MTU or tendon was not directly measured maintained.
remains a limitation. Second, the passive dorsiexion
test might itself have a stretching eect. However, we Key words: human, Achilles tendon, lower limb, en-
performed passive dorsiexion tests (i.e., pre-stretch- durance, plantar exor muscle.

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