Dr. DeHeer's Article Review: Does stretching increase ankle dorsiflexion range of motion? A systematic review

Article: Does stretching increase ankle dorsiflexion range of motion? A systematic review

Radford, Joel A., et al. "Does stretching increase ankle dorsiflexion range of motion? A systematic review." British journal of sports medicine 40.10 (2006): 870-875.

Abstract Link: http://bjsm.bmj.com/content/40/10/870.short

 

Key Points:

  1. This study was a systematic review of the effect of calf muscle stretching on ankle joint dorsiflexion
  2. Five randomized controlled studies (total of 161 participants) met the inclusion criteria of the systematic review
  3. Results of static stretching compared to no stretching
    1. < 15 minutes = increase in ankle joint dorsiflexion of 2.07°
    2. >15 minutes but < 30 minutes = increase in ankle joint dorsiflexion of 3.03°
    3. >30 minutes = increase in ankle joint dorsiflexion of 2.49° (note this group was underpowered to detect effect)
  4. The general trend was the longer the stretch the greater the increase in ankle joint dorsiflexion
  5. Static calf muscle stretching provides a small and statistically significant increase in ankle joint dorsiflexion
  6. The authors recommend calf stretching when a small increase in ankle joint dorsiflexion would be beneficial

 

DeHeer’s Opinion: My treatment regime of one hour per day to treat equinus deformity is based on this study. It must be remembered the goal is 5° of ankle joint dorsiflexion with the knee extended. Most people only require between 3° and 10° of increase in ankle joint dorsiflexion to reach this normal value. Subsequent studies have demonstrated much higher increased in ankle joint dorsiflexion with stretching, so do not get too caught up on the numbers from this article. The concept is more important, stretching improves range of motion and the trend of more stretching time equals more dorsiflexion. 



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