Stretching interventions are important to restore normal muscle length and joint range of motion (ROM). Contract-relax stretching has been shown more effective than static stretching to increase muscle flexibility. PNF-style contract-relax stretching requires a partner to provide resistance for a pre-stretch contraction, followed by passive movement into the newly acquired ROM. Stretching straps are sometimes used as an assistive device to help hold a limb in place for a static stretch. Unfortunately, most straps are rigid and therefore provide only static stretching.
The new Thera-Band® Stretch Strap has inherent elasticity combined with rigidity to support both static and contract-relax stretching. Thera-Band Academy Scientific Advisory Board member, Dr. David Behm and his students at Memorial University of Newfoundland in Canada tested the efficacy of the Thera-Band Stretch Strap in increasing hamstring flexibility compared to a partner-assisted stretch. He presented his findings at the 2011 TRAC meeting in San Francisco. They evaluated acute hip ROM as well as movement and reaction time before and after different stretching interventions, randomized on separate days.
Both stretching conditions with the Thera-Band Stretch Strap and with partner-assisted stretching significantly improved hamstring flexibility and impaired performance immediately after stretching. Dr. Behm concluded that the Thera-Band Stretch Strap provides similar improvements in ROM to partner-assisted stretching, suggesting a more efficient method of contract-relax stretching and eliminating the need for a stretching partner.
Read the abstract of his study here: A Comparison of Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation Techniques: Partner Assisted vs. Thera-Band® Stretch Strap Unassisted Modalities
Listen to a podcast interview with Dr. Behm about his project by clicking on the link below: