Kylee West1,,2, Gregory J. Grosicki2, Kaelyn Spears2, Barry Joyner3, Collin Smith4, Nick J. Siekirk1,3. 1Biomechanics Lab, Georgia Southern University, Statesboro, GA. 2Biodynamics and Human Performance Center, Georgia Southern University (Armstrong), Savannah, GA. 3Center for Rehabilitation and Independent Living, Waters College of Health Professions, Statesboro, GA. 4Internal Medicine, East Georgia Regional Hospital, Savannah, GA.

BACKGROUND: Aortic arterial stiffness increases with age and is associated with elevated risk for cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. Physical activity may alter the trajectory of age-related arterial stiffening. In young males, it has been demonstrated that acute trunk stretching reduces arterial stiffness and increases carotid arterial compliance, but whether such benefits translate to middle-aged to older males and females is less clear. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to examine the effects of acute trunk stretching using an exercise ball on aortic arterial stiffness and arterial wave reflections in middle-aged to older adults. METHODS: We measured carotid-femoral pulse wave velocity (cf-PWV; an index of aortic arterial stiffness) and augmentation index normalized to a heart rate of 75 beats per minute (AIx75; an index of arterial wave reflection and myocardial burden) in 13 middle-aged to older adults (6M/7F; 70 ± 9 yrs; 31.1 ± 4.4 kg/m2; Means ± SD) before and 10-min after partner-assisted passive trunk stretching and a time-matched control visit, the order of which was randomized. The passive stretching visit consisted of six trunk stretches (flexion, extension, and bi-directional lateral flexion and standing rotation). For each participant, the first stretch was randomized. Each stretch was held for 30 seconds, followed by 30 seconds of relaxation, and this sequence was repeated 5 times in rotational order for a total of 30 minutes. The time-matched control visit consisted of 30 minutes of quiet seated upright rest. Visits were separated by a minimum of 48 hours (average separation = 7 ± 9 days). A repeated measures linear mixed model was used to compare changes (Δ; post - pre) in cf-PWV and AIx75 between visits. RESULTS: Average resting cf-PWV during the two visits was 9.01 ± 1.4 m/s and AIx75 was 34.8 ± 7.6 %. Changes in cf-PWV were similar between trunk stretching (-0.09 ± 0.64 m/s) and control (0.23 ± 0.62 m/s) visits, without adjustment for mean arterial pressure (p = 0.218) and with adjustment (p = 0.969). Likewise, changes in AIx75 were similar (p = 0.151) between trunk stretching (0.50 ± 4.20 %) and control visits (-2.42 ± 5.72 %). CONCLUSION: These preliminary findings indicate that acute trunk stretching using an exercise ball does not alter aortic arterial stiffness or arterial wave reflections in middle-aged to older adults.

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