Study designs of evaluations included in the review
Only randomised controlled trials (RCTs) were eligible for inclusion. Two studies included a within-subject design.
Specific interventions included in the review
Stretching (either self-administered, administered manually by therapists or by some external device such as a splint) for the purpose of changing or preventing change in joint range of motion (ROM). Stretching could be of any duration, frequency or intensity, but only studies where the intervention was administered over more than one day were included. The included studies were of between 3 and 20 minutes stretching per day, with a median of eight treatments (range: 3 to 56) over 21 days (range: 3 to 42). No study quantified the intensity of the stretching. All of the studies included a no-stretch control.
Participants included in the review
Studies that involved individuals receiving a stretching intervention, which was administered to a joint or tissues not directly affected by surgery, trauma or disease, were eligible for review. None examined the effect of stretching in patients with clinically significant contractures. In seven studies the participants were treated because they had tight or short muscles, but in none was it function-limiting.
Outcomes assessed in the review
Studies were eligible if they assessed any measure of joint ROM, joint compliance or flexibility, provided the outcome had been assessed at least one day after the last stretch intervention.
How were decisions on the relevance of primary studies made?
Potentially relevant articles were independently screened by two reviewers, with any disagreements resolved by negotiation.