Science & Equine

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Written by Marly Coppens
Posted in Exercise therapy

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Effects of stretches on stride length and ROM in trot

This study investigated the effect of an 8-week passive stretching regime on stride length and range of motion (ROM). The joints examined were the shoulder, elbow, carpus, fetlock, hip, stifle and hock.

18 riding-school horses were divided into 3 groups. The groups were assigned to a 6 day per week stretching regime (6DSR), a 3 day per week stretching regime (3DSR) or a no-stretching regime (control group). All subjects were warmed up for 10 min on a horse walker prior to the stretching.

The stretches (Pattillo 2005) being used (all passive techniques) consisted of a limb relaxation technique and specific forelimb and hindlimb stretches. The forelimb stretches were modified girth stretch, full girth stretch, leg flexor lift and triceps release. The hindlimb stretches comprised hamstring stretch, farrier stretch, stifle and hip flexor stretch and lateral quad stretch. The stretches were applied twice and held for 10 s initially and then for a further 20 s.

No significant difference in stride length was found in trot between the 3 groups after the 8 weeks intervention. The stifle, shoulder and hock joints demonstrated a significantly lower ROM after the 6DSR than after 3DSR. The 6DSR group may not have had sufficient opportunity to recover between stretching and adapt compared to the 3DSR. This suggest that stretching every day may not be appropriate, but that stretching 3 days a week may provide some benefit in terms of ROM.

> From: Rose et al., Vet J. 181 (2009) 53-55. All rights reserved to Elsevier Ltd.. Click here for the online summary.

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