The effects of serial stretch loading on stretch work and stretch- shorten cycle performance in the knee musculature

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Training methods to optimize stretch-shorten cycle performance and an active muscle's ability to resist a sudden stretch (stretch work) and the relationship between the two have not been fully explored. The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of an 8-week strengthening program of serial stretch loading on stretch work and stretch-shorten cycle performance in the quadriceps and hamstring muscles. Thirty-one asymptomatic subjects participated in pre- and post-tests of maximum voluntary isometric contractions, stretch work and stretch-shorten cycle trials, and single-leg vertical jumps. The training portion consisted of progressively resisted isotonic single-leg squats. One leg exercised against an isotonic load with serial stretch loading, while the other leg exercised against isotonic load alone. Training resulted in strength gains in both legs indicated by the increase in weight lifted during training, but not by maximum voluntary isometric contractions. Vertical jump height increased in both legs. In the hamstring, stretch work decreased and stretch-shorten cycle performance increased in both legs. In the quadriceps, serial stretch loading intervention resulted in increased stretch-shorten cycle performance and no significant change in stretch work. The correlation between stretch-shorten cycle and stretch work was weak but significant. These findings suggest that the use of serial stretch loading could improve muscular performance and enhance a muscle's potential for dynamic stabilization.

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Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy