author: Harvey LA, Byak AJ, Ostrovskaya M, Glinsky J, Katte L, Herbert RD.
publication: Aust J Physiother. 2003;49(3):176-81.
The aim of this assessor-blind randomised controlled trial was to determine the effect of four weeks of 30 minute stretches each weekday on extensibility of the hamstring muscles in people with recent spinal cord injuries. A consecutive sample of 16 spinal cord-injured patients with no or minimal voluntary motor power in the lower limbs and insufficient hamstring muscle extensibility to enable optimal long sitting were recruited. Subjects’ legs were randomly allocated to experimental and control conditions. The hamstring muscles of the experimental leg of each subject were stretched with a 30 Nm torque at the hip for 30 minutes each weekday for four weeks. The hamstring muscles of the contralateral leg were not stretched during this period. Extensibility of the hamstring muscles (hip flexion range of motion with knee extended, measured with a 48 Nm torque at the hip) of both legs was measured by a blinded assessor at the commencement of the study and one day after the completion of the four-week stretch period. Changes in hamstring muscle extensibility from initial to final measurements were calculated. The effect of stretching was expressed as the mean difference in these changes between stretched and non-stretched legs. The mean effect of stretching was 1 degree (95% CI -2 to 5 degrees). Four weeks of 30 minute stretches each weekday does not affect the extensibility of the hamstring muscle in people with spinal cord injuries.