BACKGROUND & OBJECTIVE
The ankle plantar flexors, or calf muscles, require a baseline degree of flexibility in order to maintain normal lower limb function and gait pattern. There are many pathologies potentially associated with decreased ankle plantar flexion including plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendinopathy, and knee injuries. The goal of this systematic review and meta-analysis is to sort through the considerable volume of evidence on the topic and determine the most effective methods of increasing ankle dorsiflexion range of motion.
The authors conducted a large search across numerous reputable electronic databases and narrowed down the original yield of 493 studies to 20 studies that met the eligibility criteria, and were thus included in the systematic review. Eligibility criteria included randomized and controlled clinical trials, and the measuring of ankle dorsiflexion pre and post-intervention. Exclusion criteria included studies that pertained to any specific disease or dysfunction, subjects under the age of 18, no stretch or ROM assessment, repeated measures design studies, and studies lacking a control group.
Stretching was broken down into three distinct types based on the method studied in each individual paper: static stretching (15 studies), PNF stretching (3 studies), and ballistic stretching (2 studies).
The results are not groundbreaking, although they are helpful in determining intervention techniques to increase ankle dorsiflexion range of motion. Static and PNF stretching were found to be nearly equally effective in increasing chronic ankle dorsiflexion range of motion, while