BACKGROUND: Stretching a muscle not only increases the extensibility or range of motion (ROM) of the stretched muscle or joint but there is growing evidence of increased ROM of contralateral and other non-local muscles and joints.
OBJECTIVE: The objective of this meta-analysis was to quantify crossover or non-local changes in passive ROM following an acute bout of unilateral stretching and to examine potential dose-response relations.
METHODS: Eleven studies involving 14 independent measures met the inclusion criteria. The meta-analysis included moderating variables such as sex, trained state, stretching intensity and duration.
RESULTS: The analysis revealed that unilateral passive static stretching induced moderate magnitude (standard mean difference within studies: SMD: 0.86) increases in passive ROM with non-local, non-stretched joints. Moderating variables such as sex, trained state, stretching intensity, and duration did not moderate the results. Although stretching duration did not present statistically significant differences, greater than 240-s of stretching (SMD: 1.24) exhibited large magnitude increases in non-local ROM compared to moderate magnitude improvements with shorter (< 120-s: SMD: 0.72) durations of stretching.
CONCLUSION: Passive static stretching of one muscle group can induce moderate magnitude, global increases in ROM. Stretching durations greater than 240 s may have larger effects compared with shorter stretching durations.