Stretching Helps Mice with back inflammation!
Humans and animals spontaneously stretch after spending time in a fixed position, and the reasons for this behavior are not fully known.
The researchers in this study injected the soft-tissue in the back of rats with carrageenan (an inflammatory irritant). They then randomized the rats into stretch versus no-stretch groups.
The rats were stretched by lifting them up by their tail at a 45° angle while they held on to the edge of a table with their front paws.
The researchers emphasize that this was comfortable and almost enjoyed by the rats as they did not show any sign of agitation or distress at anytime during the stretch.
The rats that were actively stretched regularly for 48 hours had significantly reduced inflammatory lesion thickness and neutrophil count.
This study supports the notion that compared to rest or normal movements, end range movement exercises may reduce acute inflammation within local connective tissues.
I must confess that the complete inflammatory physiology discussed in this paper was too complex for my understanding.
Clinical application: Now I got more evidence (based on rats) to support the hand heel rock exercise that I do every single morning and prescribe to my patients with acute LBP…if it works on rats, it must work on us!
Reference: Berrueta L et al Stretching Impacts Inflammation Resolution in Connective Tissue. J Cell Physiol. 2016 Jul;231(7):1621-7.