The Effect Of Duration Of Stretching Of The Hamstring Muscle Group For Increasing Range Of Motion In People Aged 65 Years Or Older
Background and Purpose. Stretching protocols for elderly people (≥65 years of age) have not been studied to determine the effectiveness of increasing range of motion (ROM). The purpose of this study was to determine which of 3 durations of stretches would produce and maintain the greatest gains in knee extension ROM with the femur held at 90 degrees of hip flexion in a group of elderly individuals. Subjects. Sixty-two subjects (mean age=84.7 years, SD=5.6, range= 65–97) with tight hamstring muscles (defined as the inability to extend the knee to less than 20° of knee flexion) participated. Subjects were recruited from a retirement housing complex and were independent in activities of daily living. Methods. Subjects were randomly assigned to 1 of 4 groups and completed a physical activity questionnaire. The subjects in group 1 (n=13, mean age=85.1 years, SD=6.4, range=70–97), a control group, performed no stretching. The randomly selected right or left limb of subjects in group 2 (n=17, mean age=85.5 years, SD=4.5, range=80–93), group 3 (n=15, mean age=85.2 years, SD=6.5, range=65–92), and group 4 (n=17, mean age=83.2 years, SD=4.6, range=68–90) was stretched 5 times per week for 6 weeks for 15, 30, and 60 seconds, respectively. Range of motion was measured once a week for 10 weeks to determine the treatment and residual effects. Data were analyzed using a growth curve model. Results. A 60-second stretch produced a greater rate of gains in ROM (60-second stretch=2.4° per week, 30-second stretch=1.3° per week, 15-second stretch=0.6° per week), which persisted longer than the gains in any other group (group 4 still had 5.4° more ROM 4 weeks after treatment than at pretest as compared with 0.7° and 0.8° for groups 2 and 3, respectively). Discussion and Conclusion. Longer hold times during stretching of the hamstring muscles resulted in a greater rate of gains in ROM and a more sustained increase in ROM in elderly subjects. These results may differ from those of studies performed with younger populations because of age-related physiologic changes.