Content » Vol 53, Issue 1

Original report

Optimal duration of stretching exercise in patients with chronic myofascial pain syndrome: A randomized controlled trial

Sameeha S Mansoori, Ibrahim M. Moustafa, Amal Ahbouch, Deed E. Harrison
Department of Physiotherapy, College of Health Sciences, University of Sharjah, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates
DOI: 10.2340/16501977-2781

Abstract

Objective: To explore the effect of variable durations of stretching on neural function, pain, and algometric pressure in patients with chronic myofascial pain syndrome.
Design: Randomized controlled trial.
Patients: A total of 100 participants diagnosed with chronic myofascial pain syndrome were randomly assigned to a control group or 1 of 3 intervention groups.
Methods: The 3 experimental groups received different durations of cervical spine stretching: 15, 30 or 60 s. The control group did not stretch. Primary outcome measures included peak-to-peak somatosensory-evoked potential for dermatomes C6, C7 and C8. Secondary outcome measures included central somatosensory conduction time (N13–N20), pain intensity, and pressure-pain threshold algometric measurements. All outcome measures were assessed immediately after and 2 h after the treatment session.
Results: Post hoc analysis indicated that stretching for 60 s significantly decreased the dermatomal amplitude for C6, C7 and C8 (p < 0.001) and significantly increased the central conduction time, indicating negative effect (p < 0.001). Stretching for 30 and 60 s resulted in greater improvement in pain intensity and algometric pressure than stretching for 15 s or no stretch (control) p < 0.001.
Conclusion: Stretching cervical muscles involved in chronic myofascial pain syndrome for 30 s was optimal in achieving stretching benefits and minimizing the negative effects on the neural function of the involved nerve roots and central nervous system.

Lay Abstract

This study measured the effect of different durations of stretching (15 s, 30 s, 60 s and no stretching) of the muscles around the neck and shoulders in 100 participants with chronic myofascial pain syndrome. The outcome measures assessed the effect on neural function. The results show that stretching for 30 s was the optimal time, for achieving stretching benefits and minimizing the negative effects on the neural function of the involved nerve roots and central nervous system. Stretching for a longer time negatively affected the neural function, but decreased the pain level, while stretching for a shorter time did not achieve the optimal muscle length after stretching.

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