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Ganser, SPT; Julie Guinn, SPT; Rachel McCort, SPT; Mellony Meister, SPT Faculty Mentor: Catherine Rush Thompson, PT, PhD, MS INTRODUCTION/CLINICAL RELEVANCE: Musculoskeletal flexibility is essential for functional skills used in daily activities. Motor imagery (mentally simulating a movement) has been shown to improve musculoskeletal flexibility in adults. This study examined the impact of physical practice (stretching) and motor imagery on the musculoskeletal flexibility of youth and young adults. METHOD: Fifty-three participants (31 female, 22 male), ages 12-25 (mean age 20.2 + 0.5 yr) were randomly assigned to Control, Physical Practice, Motor Imagery, and Combined Practice groups. Participants were measured pre-and post-intervention using the Sit and Reach Test, hamstring ROM, and measures of motor imagery ability (VMIQ, MIF). The control group viewed a 5 min. video featuring random facts. The Physical Practice group performed the Sit and Reach Test three repetitions following a contract-relax technique. The Motor Imagery group mentally practiced the Sit and Reach Test following a video featuring motor imagery and relaxation. The Combined Practice group performed both Physical Practice and Motor Imagery interventions. RESULTS: Participants were evaluated for musculoskeletal flexibility (MF) using the Sit and Reach test and hamstring ROM. Using a MANOVA and Cohen d to determine effect size ( < .05), all scores were compared to the control condition. Noteworthy results from this comparison are below. Sit and Reach Test Effect Size () CI Group compared to C % better than C

Physical Practice Motor Imagery Combined Practice

0.279 0.615 0.709

4.91 to 9.09 4.8 to 8.6 6.70 to 11.996

60% better 73% better 76% better

DISCUSSION: While physical practice (stretching) is typically used to enhance musculoskeletal flexibility, motor imagery and motor imagery combined with stretching have a greater effect on the ability of youth and young adults to perform the Sit and Reach Test than physical practice alone. CONCLUSIONS: Motor imagery practice may enhance performance of the Sit and Reach Test (a test of musculoskeletal flexibility) by youth and young adults. Performance on this test may be further enhanced by practice that combines both motor imagery and physical practice (stretching). ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: We would like to thank Dr. Mohamed Kohia for his assistance.