Manchester Metropolitan University's Research Repository

    Transient effects of stretching exercises on gait parameters of elderly women

    Rodacki, André L. F., Souza, Ricardo M., Ugrinowitsch, Carlos, Cristopoliski, Fabiano and Fowler, Neil E. (2009) Transient effects of stretching exercises on gait parameters of elderly women. Manual therapy, 14 (2). pp. 167-172. ISSN 1532-2769

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    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. Fifteen healthy women living in the community volunteered to participate in the study. A kinematic gait analysis was performed immediately before and after a session of static stretching exercises applied on hip flexor/extensor muscles. 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. Some other gait variables related to the risk of fall remained unaltered (e.g., toe clearance). The stable pattern of segmental angular velocities was proposed to explain the stability of these unchanged gait variables. 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. Other studies to determine whether regular stretching routines are an effective strategy to reduce the risk of fall are required.

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