Objective. To determine if a short regime of stretching exercises could affect cervical range of motion (RoM).
Design. A single-blind trial design was adopted.
Background. Stretching has become important with respect to sports as well as health care. Although much is surmised about the effects of stretching exercise on spinal RoM, little has been published, those that have using symptomatic subjects. Therefore it is an appropriate time to study this subject more closely.
Methods. Forty volunteer, asymptomatic male subjects were assigned into control (n = 19) or exercise (n = 21) groups and asked not to vary their daily routines too much. The exercise group performed stretching exercises twice a day, on days 1-7 inclusive. All subjects performed warm-up exercises (active maximal rotation and lateral flexion in the cervical spine) before assessing active cervical RoM on days 1, 3, 7 and 14, using a cervicorotometer, whose least significant difference for left, right and total cervical rotation were 3.8°, 3°and 5.2°).
Results. The exercise group had a significantly increased active cervical RoM by day 7 (c. 14%; 22°for total rotation). This change reverted towards pre-stretch values 7 days after exercises had been discontinued.
Conclusions. Performing stretching exercises increases cervical RoM in the short term. These effects wear off rapidly if the stretching regime is discontinued.