Effects of stretching and heat treatment on hamstring extensibility in children with severe mental retardation and hypertonia

The objective of this study was to examine the effect of heat and duration of stretching on the extensibility of hamstring muscles and their electromyographic responses to passive stretch in children with hypertonia and severe mental retardation.  Subjects received four treatment sessions in random order with each consisting of five repetitions of stretching: (A) 10-second stretching, (B) 30-second stretching, (C) hot pack followed by 10-second stretching, and (D) hot pack followed by 30-second stretching.

The results showed that heat application to the hamstrings before stretching could result in greater increase in extensibility than stretching alone in children with hypertonia and severe mental retardation. Stretching could promote relaxation of the hamstring muscles regardless of prior heat treatment. Stretching sustained for 30 seconds led to greater relaxation than that for 10 seconds.

Ckinical Rehabilitation, 2008, 22(9), 771-779

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