Background: Altered mechanics resulting from a decrease in ankle dorsiflexion due to shortening of the gastrocnemius may cause lower extremity injuries over time.
Objective: This study will investigate: (1) the relationship between gastrocnemius stretching and ankle kinematics, and (2) the difference in ankle dorsiflexion range of motion (ROM) and ankle kinematics comparing stretching alone to stretching and self-myofascial release (SMR). We believe the combination of gastrocnemius stretching and SMR will have a greater impact on ankle ROM and kinematics during gait.
Methods: This is a randomized comparison study. Thirty participants with gastrocnemius shortening will be randomly assigned to groups: (1) stretching alone, or (2) stretching and SMR. Ankle dorsiflexion will be measured in non-weight bearing and weight bearing in both groups. Three dimensional motion analysis will be used to evaluate kinematics. A baseline pre-intervention motion analysis will be performed while the participant walks and runs on a treadmill. Both groups will complete a standing gastrocnemius stretch. Group (2) will also perform SMR with a roller massager. Subjects will then have ankle dorsiflexion re-measured and post-intervention walking and running motion analysis. Group differences will be measured with an independent t-test and a two-way mixed factorial ANOVA will determine the effect of interventions.
Relevance: Previous studies examined effects of gastrocnemius stretching on gait, but have not examined effects of SMR on (1) gastrocnemius length and (2) ankle kinematics during gait. Knowledge of the best methods of stretching can aid clinicians in treatment and prevention of related injuries throughout the kinetic chain.