Optimal Duration of Stretching Exercise in Patients With Chronic Mechanical Neck Pain


University of Sharjah




Mechanical Neck Pain


Other: Stretching exercises

Study type


Funder types




Details and patient eligibility


controversy remains about the stretching parameters needed to achieve a particular goal or treatment outcome. In clinical practice, multiple stretching techniques are used; nevertheless, there is no evidence-based agreement on the most effective parameters. One of these parameters, that might be affecting the treatment outcome the most, is the stretching duration, thus far there is a little agreement on the optimal stretching duration.

This non agreement in exact stretching parameters is obvious between authors and researchers in the field of muscle energy techniques (MET) as well as those who have used and advocate various durations for the passive stretch that follows the contraction phase in MET.

Full description

comparison and subsequent conclusions about appropriate stretching times are mainly based on mechanical factors such as range of motion and flexibility, while ignoring the neural adversative mechanical tension that may be created during stretching exercises. According to the literature , stretching induced neural tension may adversely affect the central nervous system and nerve root function due to the absence of the perineurium, which is the primary load carrying structure. Thus, safe or unsafe limits of nerve elongation are not well established, despite several basic scientific and clinical studies.. Consequently, in the present study, the current study aimed to answer the question: Is it theoretically possible, that increased longitudinal strain and stress on the spinal cord and nerve root from continuous stretching exercises may subtly impair the neural function? Our hypothesis is that a duration threshold exists where, once reached, adverse neural function will be apparent resulting in a reduction of either or both latency and amplitudes of evoked potentials.


100 patients




18 to 40 years old


No Healthy Volunteers

Inclusion criteria

  • Eligible patients had to be between 18 and 40 years of age
  • have generalized neck pain for more than 3 months.
  • with symptoms provoked by neck postures, movements, or palpation

Exclusion criteria

  • Subjects' exclusion criteria included specific neck pain due to trauma, disc protrusion, whiplash, congenital deformity of the spine, spinal stenosis, neoplasm, inflammatory or rheumatic disease. Furthermore, subjects were excluded if they had a history of spine surgery and any objective findings consistent with neurological conditions and vascular disorders.

Trial design

Primary purpose




Interventional model

Parallel Assignment


Double Blind

100 participants in 4 patient groups, including a placebo group

60 seconds
Experimental group
60 seconds stretching group Stretching exercises for upper Trapezius and Levator the examiner will passively place the participant's head into flexion, side-bending away and rotation towards the side to be stretched (for upper trapezius muscle) and flexion, side-bending away and rotation away from the side to be stretched (for levator scapula ). The patient introduces a light resisted effort to take the stabilized shoulder towards the ear and the ear towards the shoulder. The contraction is sustained for 10 seconds and, upon complete relaxation of effort, the therapist gently eases the head/ neck into an increased degree of side-bending and rotation, where it is stabilized, as the shoulder is stretched caudally. The examiner will depress the participant's shoulder with 100 Newton's of force measured with pressure dynamometer. Once the examiner achieved this level of force, he maintains the stretch for 60 seconds . The procedure is repeated three times.
Other: Stretching exercises
30 seconds
Experimental group
The same procedures while the therapist will maintain the stretch for 30 seconds.
Other: Stretching exercises
15 seconds
Experimental group
The same procedures while the therapist will maintain the stretch for 15 seconds.
Other: Stretching exercises
Placebo Comparator group
The therapist maintains the same manual contact without stretching force
Other: Stretching exercises

Trial contacts and locations



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