What’s This Research About?

The current landscape of yoga contains different forms and schools of practice, each with their own explanations about what happens in your body when practicing yoga. Many times these explanations contradict each other. When trying to get a grip on what is most likely to be true, reading a scientific review is a good strategy. The authors of the article summarize and discuss several theories that explain why we become more flexible after stretching, and which scientific explanations have the most solid foundations so far.

There are several ways to compile and evaluate the current body of knowledge within a certain scientific topic. It is usually done through different styles of reviews. In the hierarchy of scientific evidence, well made systematic reviews and meta-analyses are on the top. The presented narrative review holds another value, it gives the researcher a voice to share insights and perspectives (usually) within their own area of research. Of importance, it gives the opportunity for the reader to understand and get a broader sense of a topic without having years of experience researching it. It helps to uncover theoretical patterns within stretching research, and examines how theories can shape and frame future work. The purpose of it is to review the most commonly used theories when explaining the increase in muscle extensibility after stretching, and to discuss the implications for further research and clinical practice.

About The Author


Sara Hoy

TITLE: Increasing Muscle Extensibility: A Matter of Increasing Length or Modifying Sensation?


PUBLICATION: Physical Therapy, Volume 90, Number 3

DATE: March 2010

AUTHORS : Cynthia Holzman Weppler, S. Peter Magnusson

Muscle extensibility:  A one-dimensional measurement of muscle length, such as the ability of a muscle to extend to an endpoint. Increases in muscle extensibility are here demonstrated by end-range joint angles. In stretching research in humans, most often this means a subject’s sensation. 

Muscle-tendon unit:  For research purposes, the contractile muscle tissue and the fibrous connective tissue cannot be separated in a living human. Therefore, when using the term ‘muscle’ in this article it means the muscle-tendon unit.

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