January 22, 2015 | John Paul Catanzaro
Static stretching can be useful to increase joint range of motion (ROM), but in order for it to truly take effect, you must stretch often. How often? Well, research indicates that daily stretching is best, and if you can do it multiple times a day, the results are even better.
In a study conducted by Cipriani et al., 2012, four different stretching protocols were tested:
A standing one-legged hamstring stretch was used for the study. The stretch position was held at a point of discomfort for 30 seconds, followed by a 10-second rest, and then the stretch was repeated again at the same intensity for another 30 seconds. The total stretch time each session was one minute. After four weeks, the S14 group that stretched 14 minutes per week improved mean hip ROM by 26.5% compared to 16.8% for the S3 group that stretched 3-4 minutes per week. The other two groups hovered around 24% improvement in mean hip ROM.
By the way, the study above used an open-chain stretch. A more effective option for the hamstrings is a closed-chain stretch as demonstrated in the video below.
When it comes to stretching, frequency of exposure is important. The problem, of course, is that people barely have enough time to exercise so asking them to stretch on top of that is unlikely. Fortunately, there are two simple ways to make it happen on a regular basis:
Try those suggestions over the next month. Pick a muscle that has limited ROM and feels “tight” and concentrate on it for a good month. Make sure to measure your ROM before and after that period to see how well you’ve improved.