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Stretching - Neuroplastic Trigger Point Theory

Posted by Simeon Niel Asher on

There is compelling research in the field of stretching that has direct relevance to a ‘Neuroplastic trigger point theory’.



We all know that stretching makes us feel better BUT the research into stretching is fraught with complexity. For example, where is the end point for stretching? Pain? End point restriction? In 2010 Weppler explored the research base for stretching and presented the notion of a ‘Sensory Theory’ for Increasing Muscle Extensibility.

“In the early 1990s, several researchers put mechanical stretching theories to the test by assessing the biomechanical effects of stretching. By including the dimension of tension in muscle length evaluation, they were able to construct torque/angle curves and assess biomechanical properties of the muscles before and after stretching”.

“If the increases in muscle extensibility observed after stretching were due to an increase in length of the muscles caused by any mechanical explanations, there should have been a lasting right shift in passive torque/angle curves Instead, the only change observed in passive torque/angle curves was an increase in end-range joint angles and applied torque. Because the endpoint of these stretches was subject to sensation (pain onset, maximum stretch or maximum pain tolerated), the only observable explanation for these results was that subjects’ perception of the selected sensation occurred later in stretch application”. 

“These studies suggest that increases in muscle extensibility observed immediately after stretching and after short-term (3- to 8-week) stretching programs are due to an alteration of sensation only and not to an increase in muscle length. This theory is referred to as the sensory theory because the change in subjects’ perception of sensation is the only current explanation for these results. To what extent this adaptation is a peripheral or central phenomenon or a combination thereof remains to be established”.


This trigger point therapy blog is intended to be used for information purposes only and is not intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment or to substitute for a medical diagnosis and/or treatment rendered or prescribed by a physician or competent healthcare professional. This information is designed as educational material, but should not be taken as a recommendation for treatment of any particular person or patient. Always consult your physician if you think you need treatment or if you feel unwell. 


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