In our Boulder Physical Therapy and Lafayette Physical Therapy clinics we are often trying to improve as many impairments as possible with as few home exercises as needed. Everyone’s time is limited each week and allowing for multiple areas, such as pain, strength, endurance, and mobility, to be improved with 2-3 Physical Therapy exercises requires utilizing exercises which are able to target multiple impairments at one time. In our practice, we often utilize strength training through an optimal range of motion to improve both strength and flexibility. We find this approach does not require additional flexibility or stretching exercises to be performed in addition the strength training exercises. A recent review of the medical evidence shows how effective strength training can be for improving flexibility.
Alizadeh and colleagues presented their systematic review and meta analysis in the journal Sports Medicine (2022). Authors found 55 eligible studies which compared the training effects of strength training with a control group, stretching group, or a group that performed strength training and stretching. Authors found strength training improved range of motion across these studies. In addition, strength training was equivalent to stretching for improving range of motion. Greater results where seen in sedentary vs active individuals who completed these protocols. Authors concluded strength training with external loads improved flexibility, but additional stretching may not be required above and beyond the benefits of strength training.