Transient effects of stretching exercises on gait parameters of elderly women.

Rodacki AL, Souza RM, Ugrinowitsch C, Cristopoliski F, Fowler NE

This study aimed to analyse the effects of a single stretching exercise session on a number of gait parameters in elderly participants in an attempt to determine whether these exercises can influence the risk of fall. A kinematic gait analysis was performed immediately before and after a session of static stretching exercises applied on hip flexor/extensor muscles in 15 healthy women. Results showed a significant influence of stretching exercises on a number of gait parameters, which have previously been proposed as fall predictors. Participants showed increased gait velocity, greater step length and reduced double support time during stance after performing stretching exercises, suggesting improved stability and mobility. Changes around the pelvis (increased anterior-posterior tilt and rotation range of motion) resulting from the stretching exercises were suggested to influence the gait parameters (velocity, step length and double support time). Therefore, stretching exercises were shown to be a promising strategy to facilitate changes in gait parameters related to the risk of fall.

The results indicate that stretching exercises, performed on a regular (daily) basis, result in gait adaptations which can be considered as indicative of reduced fall risk.

Man Ther. 2009 Apr;14(2):167-72

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