Acute effects of passive stretching on the electromechanical delay and evoked twitch properties

Pablo B. Costa, Eric D. Ryan, Trent J. Herda, Ashley A. Walter, Katherine M. Hoge, Joel T. Cramer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

58 Scopus citations


The purpose of this study was to investigate the acute effects of passive stretching on the electromechanical delay (EMD), peak twitch force (PTF), rate of force development (RFD), and compound muscle action potential (M-wave) amplitude during evoked twitches of the plantar flexor muscles. 16 men (mean age ± SD = 21.1 ± 1.7 years; body mass = 75.9 ± 11.4 kg; height = 176.5 ± 8.6 cm) participated in this study. A single, square-wave, supramaximal transcutaneous electrical stimulus was delivered to the tibial nerve before and after passive stretching. The stretching protocol consisted of nine repetitions of passive assisted stretching designed to stretch the calf muscles. Each repetition was held for 135 s separated by 5-10 s of rest. Dependent-samples t tests (pre- vs. post-stretching) were used to analyze the EMD, PTF, RFD, and M-wave amplitude data. There were significant changes (P ≤ 0.05) from pre- to post-stretching for EMD (mean ± SE = 4.84 ± 0.31 and 6.22 ± 0.34 ms), PTF (17.2 ± 1.3 and 15.6 ± 1.5), and RFD (320.5 ± 24.5 and 279.8 ± 28.2), however, the M-wave amplitude did not change (P > 0.05). These findings suggested that passively stretching the calf muscles affected the mechanical aspects of force production from the onset of the electrically evoked twitch to the peak twitch force. These results may help to explain the mechanisms underlying the stretching-induced force deficit that have been reported as either "mechanical" or "electrical" in origin.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)301-310
Number of pages10
JournalEuropean Journal of Applied Physiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 2010


  • Electrical stimulation
  • Electromyography
  • Mechanical properties
  • Muscle mechanics
  • Rate of force development

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Physiology (medical)

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