Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Health, Physical Education and Recreation


According to deVries (11), flexibility is defined as the range of possible movement in a joint or series of joints. The assessment of flexibility is a concern for both physical education and. the medical professions·. Apparently, an adequate amount of flexibility is essential for rehabilitation from injury,.prevention of injury and superior athletic performance (2, 8, 11, 14, 15, 16, 19, 21, 25, 31, 37, 43, 45). Presently, three stretching techniques are available: 1) static or slow sustained; 2) ballistic or bounce; 3) pro­-prioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF). However, there appears to be no uniform agreement as to the best technique for gaining optimal improvements in flexibility.

Studies comparing the ballistic and static methods indicate similar results for improving flexibility (10, 33, 48). Other investigations (39, 40, 49) indicate that the ballistic is better than the static technique in stretching certain muscle groups. More recently,'limited studies have been conducted using the PNF technique (5, 7, 17, 20, 41, 46 47). This method has its origins in physical therapy (24, 26). The neural circuits are so arranged that contractions of-the antagonist results in the stretched muscle (agonist) reflexively relaxing. However, contracting a muscle involves another reflexive influence, the Golgi tendon organ. This tendon receptor gives the opposite reaction of the stretch reflex; that is, strongly contracting a muscle causes the tendon to stretch and thus send an inhibition message back to the motor neurons of the contracting muscle. Since this receptor action slightly outlasts the contraction, the muscle is allowed to be stretched further.

Investigations comparing the PNF method with the static and ballistic techniques also reveal contradictory results. Some possible reasons for these discrepancies include inadequate control, lack of baseline measurements, varied training programs, different instruments for measuring flexibility and different muscle groups utilized.


A Thesis Presented to the School of Health, Physical Education, and Recreation and the Faculty of the Graduate College University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Master of Arts University of Nebraska at Omaha. Copyright 1980 Mark Edward Wortman.

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